VANCOUVER, B.C – Forty days ahead of the Women’s World Cup, Canada coach John Herdman unveiled his roster of 23 players and it includes midfielder Diana Matheson, who suffered a broken right foot. The Canadian midfielder is currently working her way back from an ACL tear in her left knee and now faces another obstacle.
The goal for Matheson is to be ready to play in the World Cup. There is not set timetable for when she hopes to return to the pitch. Instead, her goal is to be able to play in the World Cup at some point. June 6 is the opening match of the tournament, but it’s not a target date for Diana Matheson.
“The goal for this World Cup isn’t the June 6 game,” Matheson told The Equalizer on Monday. “That’s just the first game of the seven-game journey for us. The goal is July 5. At the end of the day that’s what we’re working toward.”
[MORE: Matheson breaks right foot while recovering from torn left ACL]
Herdman’s unwavering belief in his team’s ability — and especially Matheson’s — has played a part in motivating and encouraging her to push forward and do her best to get back for the World Cup. It doesn’t appear that Matheson will miss out on the World Cup if she continues with her recovery progression. Herdman talked about what has to go right for Diana Matheson to stay on his World Cup roster.
“I think with the injury that she’s got, she’s progressing really well,” he said. “What has to go right, firstly she has to get the right medical care which we’ve got in place. The second part is her commitment to that, and she’s fully committed. She’s a real high performer. If she might have been a younger athlete I would have had some doubts because they don’t know, what they don’t know. Diana’s been through this before. She’s had injuries before and she absolutely knows all the steps she’s got to take. To get it right, it’s a set of circumstances where she doesn’t have anymore setbacks and I think that’s the key. We have to make sure that we’re ultimately diligent with the steps we provide her so she doesn’t have setbacks.”
Matheson’s recovery from her knee injury is ahead of schedule as she works toward return in June or July.
“The knee is doing well, recovery went pretty smoothly, knock on wood,” she said. “Everything was kind of right on schedule in terms of the milestones that we set.”
The ACL tear that Matheson sustained against Japan on Oct. 25, 2014, in Edmonton, Alberta, had zero influence or factor in what caused her broken metatarsal in her foot. Matheson is no stranger to this type of injury because she previously suffered the same fate with her left foot in 2010.
“I was just training and it was basically a regular step and it broke. I did my left one (foot) in 2010 and it’s exactly the same thing so I knew right away what it was,” Matheson said. “I think I probably had a stress fracture there a while. Soccer players get that injury a lot because it doesn’t have a lot of blood flow so it doesn’t heel on its own. It might have just have been a matter of time.”
When the 31-year-old Matheson returned from a broken foot in 2010, her timeline to get back on the pitch was 10 weeks. Her current broken foot occurred this past March. It will no doubt be a race to see if her foot can fully heal to the point which allows her to play competitive soccer at the highest stage this summer. Matheson knows what she has to continue to do and what she would like to avoid going forward.
“Just no more surprises,” she said of what she needs between now and June. “I think as long as we keep doing everything we can, just doing all the little things to give it the best chance to heal. It should be okay as long as there’s no more major hurdles.”
The Washington Spirit midfielder will join her NWSL club following the World Cup. Currently she is able to work on mobility, strengthening her knee and cardio activities. The underwater treadmill at Fortius Sport and Health has been very helpful for Matheson, who is also able to fully use a bicycle. Recovery has been the constant focus for Matheson. So much so, that she doesn’t have time for regular hobbies.
“Currently I have zero hobbies. Mostly rehab and then maybe some Netflix while I’m icing.”
Herdman selected Matheson because he believes she will return and contribute for Canada. It’s not known what type of role or minutes Matheson will see, but it’s very clear that her roster spot is locked up as long as she faces no further setbacks.
“Well no, she doesn’t have to be ready for the first match,” Herdman said. “If she can contribute in the Women’s World Cup on the pitch, that’s why she’s been selected to the 23. In terms of her return to play, [the] plan there’s an expectation that she will return back into that tournament at some point. As I’ve said, whether she can or can’t, she’ll be there.”
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