When I spoke to Arsenal Women forward Dan Carter at last year’s kit launch, she was on crutches and days away from surgery to repair a ruptured cruciate ligament. “I haven’t had a big injury like this before, but already it has been quite tough mentally for me. It will be interesting to see how I cope,” she said ruefully. Twelve months later, we meet again at the launch of the new Arsenal home shirt in the Armoury.
Carter returned to action in March, in time to help her team to win the WSL trophy. We conduct the interview in the glare of the impressive bauble. Dan is now relishing pre-season, which begins again in just under a fortnight for the squad. The World Cup might be at the crunch stage, but the 26-year old is firmly looking ahead to next season.
— Tim Stillman (@Stillberto) July 1, 2019
“I’m in a mix between pre-season and next season mode,” she explains. “I was injured for most of last season so I’m looking ahead and really excited and can’t wait to get going. I’ve been doing some extra work over the summer, so I’ve been in the gym ahead of most of my teammates to keep myself ticking over and ahead of the game.”
Dan came off the bench for the last seven league fixtures but has yet to complete 90 minutes since her injury on the final day of the 2017-18 season. When we spoke in March after her comeback, she told me, “There’s no handbook for how to deal with this. I have to rebuild myself physically and mentally. It’s great to be back in the squad, but I’m under no illusions that it’s over.” Carter says a full pre-season is all part of her ongoing recovery.
“There’s absolutely no good time to get injured, but I am looking forward to getting a full pre-season under my belt,” she ponders. “I got a lot of minutes and sub appearances at the end of last season. I still need to get some confidence back too, in my body and on the ball. I’m still not at the level I need to be at. I’m really looking forward to next season.”
2019/20 kit 😍 pic.twitter.com/LHLoy69n9D
— Danielle Carter (@DanielleCarter) July 1, 2019
As part of Arsenal’s pre-season preparations, they will take part in the Emirates Cup with a prestige friendly against Bayern Munich Frauen at Emirates Stadium. Carter is relishing playing in front of the Emirates crowd. “It’s a great opportunity and a great experience. Bayern will be in the same boat in terms of players being away at the World Cup and we’re not sure who exactly will be back yet. But it’s Bayern v Arsenal, both teams will have enough quality players to put on a great show.”
Arsenal will watch closely to see how many bums are on seats when the team takes to the pitch on July 28th. A good turnout might convince them to hold a WSL game at the stadium. It’s a move Carter is fully behind, “I think it’s major, it could be a real game changer. We’ve seen teams around Europe selling tens of thousands of tickets for women’s games so we can do it too. We’ve done it before, so there’s no reason why we can’t.
“The atmosphere and the experience is huge for us. We know we’re not going to sell out the Emirates, but if it’s marketed and promoted well, I think there would be a good turnout and we can really help grow the attendances.” Women’s football is experiencing something of a boom with large television audiences for the World Cup. Despite missing out on a place in the Lionesses squad, Dan has still watched as a fan.
“I’ve watched as many games as I can,” she explains. “It is unfortunate that I can’t be amongst it, but regardless of that I am a football fan so I’ve watched every game I’ve been able to and I’m supporting the England girls. I really hope they bring it home.” Carter spent a little time in France recently taking in some games, but she also used the visit to catch up with good friend and ex-Gunners winger Heather O’Reilly.
The two struck up a strong friendship during HAO’s time at the club. O’Reilly is in Paris working as a pundit on Fox Sports. Dan took the opportunity for a catch up, “HAO and I are still great friends. I went out to France with another ex-Arsenal player who is in America at the moment Lotte [Wubben-Moy], so we went out together to catch up with Heather and reminisce over old times.”
Reunited and it felt so good! 🍦❤️ pic.twitter.com/sPA8L9nfAd
— Danielle Carter (@DanielleCarter) June 17, 2019
Looking ahead to next season, Dan has been inspired by Beth Mead’s performances in the wide forward role that Carter also covets. “For as long as I can remember I’ve been a wide player at Arsenal, so I see myself fighting for a position out on the wing. I think that’s where I’m most effective,” she reflects. “Beth really took her chance last year, lots of players did.
“I look at someone like Katie McCabe too, who’s become a first team regular because she had a chance and took it. We are very grateful to them because lots of us were injured last season and not only did they have to stay in top form, but they had to stay fit too. They racked up a lot of minutes and we won the league with very few players, so just imagine what we can do with a full squad!”
Having a fully fit Dan Carter available can only help the Gunners’ title defence.
Dan spoke to Arseblog News at the launch of the new home kit. The Arsenal home kit is available on Arsenal.com, adidas.com and in Arsenal and adidas stores exclusively this week.