Arsenal's Miedema: Pain the 'new normal' after ACL return

Arsenal and Netherlands forward Vivianne Miedema has said she "almost" feels like her old self again after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury, but admitted she faces a "new normal" of pain management.

Miedema returned to WSL action in October, 10 months after injuring her knee against Lyon in the Champions League.

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The ACL tear ruled her out of the 2022 Women's World Cup, where the Netherlands were knocked out in the quarterfinals by eventual winners Spain.

"I almost feel like my old self again," Miedema told ESPN as the Netherlands prepare to face Spain again in their Nations League semifinal on Friday.

"I have of course played more and more after the winter break. After a cruciate ligament injury it sometimes involves trial and error.

"That is normal and we have taken that into account. So we have to see how I feel this week. I feel fit and fresh. Hopefully it will remain that way this week."

The 27-year-old said she doesn't play completely pain free.

"I think the new normal is a bit different from the old normal. That does not mean that I am on the field with pain every day," Miedema said.

"I think it was just very painful at the beginning. It took a lot of getting used to and now you have found a certain way to deal with it."

Miedema, who has 95 goals in 117 games for the national side, is one of several Dutch players to suffer cruciate ligament injuries in the recent past.

Aniek Nouwen, Kayleigh van Dooren and most recently Manchester City midfielder Jill Roord have gone down with the injuries which are a widespread concern across the women's game. Arsenal teammates Beth Mead and Leah Williamson also missed the Women's World Cup with the injury.

"It is difficult. You come back after being in the gym for so long. You are going to play football again and there is a completely different tension," Miedema said.

"A completely different strain, both physically and mentally. That involves trial and error. Sometimes it feels good and other times you think 'is it going to happen again', but at the moment I just feel free and good on the field again.

"Then I don't think about anything other than the game on the field."

Miedema and the Netherlands are playing for a place at this year's Olympics through the Nations League, with the winner booking their spot in Paris.

They are also out for revenge against the side that knocked them out of the World Cup.

"We are now six months further, if not longer. We have made progress after the World Cup" Miedema said.

"We are all six months further and it is of course a completely different competition. A World Cup or the Nations League. We just want to approach the competition as we always do."