Aberdeen Women manager Clint Lancaster says he is gutted to lose the services of midfielder Laura Holden, who will miss the rest of the season after suffering an ACL injury.
Holden is the second player to suffer an anterior cruciate ligament rupture to one of her knees at Aberdeen this season, with on-loan goalkeeper Faye Kirby returning to Liverpool because of the same issue.
Both players sustained their injuries in the same SWPL match, against Hibernian last month, with midfielder Holden’s prognosis confirmed late last week.
ACL injuries have been described as “endemic” in the women’s game, with more and more players being sidelined – including Scotland internationals Caroline Weir and Emma Watson, who became the most recent high-profile stars to be affected while away on international duty.
Research shows female players are up to six times more likely to suffer a non-contact ACL injury than men.
Lancaster, who previously managed Watford Women and was a first-team coach at Crystal Palace, says he is sad to see the volume of ACL injuries.
The Aberdeen boss explained: “I’ve not known it quite like this. I’ve certainly never had two ACL injuries in one game – that is crazy.
“I have experienced ACL injuries with players before at Crystal Palace and at Watford, and it’s a difficult one to know the science behind why it is happening, but it’s sad and hopefully more research is being done to make it more preventable for female players.
“There are things we can do to support the players and to safeguard them as much as possible, even though it’s impossible to safeguard them completely.
“You never know what is going to happen in a game, but with more research hopefully we can figure out what more we can do to prevent it from happening as often.”
Holden injury ‘heartbreaking’ – Dons boss Lancaster
Some players have spoken up about their fears and anxiety regarding ACL injuries, and Lancaster says he can empathise with those feelings.
He added: “I just have to say to my players that they have to play as normal. They can get any injury, but the problem is, if you try to prevent one injury, you might get another one.
“You have to play your normal game, but sadly these injuries happen. The players just have to hope it doesn’t happen to them, and having to worry about that is a shame.
“It was a freak incident for us to get two ACL injuries in one game, because, like I say, I have never had that happen before.”
The injury to Holden, 22, is especially devastating, says Lancaster, as the midfielder made the life-changing decision to move to Aberdeen from the south of England on a two-year deal during the summer.
Any footballers worst nightmare has just become a reality for me, I have officially joined the ruptured ACL club. I’m heartbroken and lost for words. I’ll be back fitter and stronger than ever before, the hard work starts now, see you on the other side pic.twitter.com/MRkrfSA2rz
— Laura Holden (@Lozza2401) October 1, 2023
Holden quit her full-time job in Bristol and moved to the Granite City to pursue a career with the Dons, who offered Holden her first-ever paid contract in football.
The Dons boss said: “I’m gutted for Laura because she is someone who took a leap of faith to move all the way up to Aberdeen to sign for the club.
“The fact she was willing to move all the way to play for this club and for me was amazing, so her being out injured for the rest of the season is heartbreaking.
“She doesn’t deserve it and I feel so sorry for her. She was playing well, had put in good performances, and was an important player in the team.
“It’s a real shame, but we will support her through the process and her recovery.
“She will stay involved and will still be coming along to training because she is an important part of the group.”