SPORTS

Canadian midfielder Diana Matheson battles clock and body ahead of World Cup

04/28/2015 03:26 EDT | Updated 08/01/2015 01:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - An injured anterior cruciate ligament last October. And a broken fifth metatarsal in the foot in March during her comeback.

The breaks have all been bad for veteran Canadian midfielder Diana Matheson recently.

"I was far enough in my ACL training that I was able to break my foot, unfortunately," Matheson said wrly after being named to the Canadian women's World Cup team.

The 31-year-old from Oakville, Ont., had the same injury in her left foot in 2010. Now she has matching screws in each foot.

With 166 caps, Matheson is a leader for the Canadian team on and off the field. So coach John Herdman included her in his 23-woman roster for the 24-team tournament that kicks off June 6.

Herdman will give her every chance to get back to action.

If she is not ready, he can bring in an alternate up to 24 hours before the tournament. Matheson says if she can't make it in time, she will step aside.

"It's a no-brainer," she said in an interview Monday. "There's other people who are killing themselves and working hard to make this team and they would deserve the shirt, for sure."

But her teammates believe anything is possible with Matheson. And Herdman says either way, she will play a key leadership role for the team.

Because of the foot injury, Matheson was using crutches last week. But she put them aside Monday, walking gingerly down the stairs as the midfielder known simply as D joined her teammates at an outdoor pep rally-style event to announce the squad.

When the five-foot Matheson went down during the October friendly against Japan, she knew right away she had injured her anterior cruciate ligament.

She had seen enough people suffer the injury. An "off-balance plant and twist."

Goalie Erin McLeod has endured two ACL injuries. Lauren Sesselmann, Melissa Tancredi and Jonelle Filigno have also come back from the same injury.

"It took me a lot longer than it's taking Diana. She's like another breed," Filigno said with a laugh. "I don't know what it is but her body heals quick and she's doing an amazing job. I really hope she's good and ready to go."

Matheson had had a knee issue prior to the London Olympics, but that was an impact injury to her other knee that she had been playing with for some time. She went in for a scope hoping to clean up some meniscus damage but ended up having more invasive surgery with a longer recovery time.

Still she was ready in advance of the tournament, playing in a half-dozen internationals beforehand, and there was a happy ending as she scored the stoppage-goal that won Canada a bronze medal over France.

The foot injury has added a painful wrinkle this time. Matheson believes she would have been able to get some games in ahead of the World Cup had she just had to rehab her knee.

"The reality is I won't have that time so it's going to be more jumping straight into the World Cup. Hopefully it's the same outcome — that I'm able to have a positive impact on the team."

While her teammates return home for a 10-day break after the roster announcement, Matheson will be staying in Vancouver to continue her rehab.

— Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

MORE:cpSports