Crystal Palace Women forward Gemma Bryan claims she has been “hung out to dry” by the club after suffering a serious knee ligament injury in April.
The 32-year-old says she has had no medical support from the Women’s Championship side – a claim Crystal Palace Women deny.
New rules this season mean top-flight women’s sides in England must have medical insurance for their players.
But second-tier teams do not have to provide insurance until next season.
“I got left in limbo,” Bryan, who works as a personal trainer, told BBC Sport.
‘They haven’t bothered to see how I am’
Bryan scored more than 100 goals in three seasons at Crystal Palace before signing for Charlton Athletic in June 2018.
After being told late that Palace had been accepted into the Women’s Championship, Bryan returned to the club in January 2019 and scored three goals in five games before tearing her anterior cruciate ligament.
But she says the only help she has had from the club was an initial MRI scan, which was organised by the medical team from Crystal Palace’s men’s side, who play in the Premier League.
“The costs were up to about £8,000 for the treatment and the women’s club said they wouldn’t be able to fund it and I’d have to go on the waiting list for the NHS,” added Bryan.
“They haven’t bothered to see how I am. Even a phone call to ask how I am doing. The club have just left me and hung me out to dry.”
In response, a Crystal Palace spokesperson told BBC Sport: “Gemma remained fully paid, beyond the terms of her agreement, until the end of the season when her registration expired.
“She was also offered ongoing continued access to rehabilitation support beyond the end of last season.”
FA changes rules on women’s medical cover
While players at the top end of the men’s game in England get the best treatment on injuries, until this season top-flight women’s players were not routinely covered by their clubs, despite the Women’s Super League going fully professional at the start of last season.
Many players had to provide their own medical insurance.
That rule changed in time for the beginning of this season, with clubs having to allow players access to club injury funds.
“Medical standards are constantly improving and are under regular review to meet the future requirements of the women’s game,” the Football Association said in a statement.
“From the start of the 2019-20 season, extra regulations have been introduced to the Barclays FA Women’s Super League Licence to ensure that every club must have medical funds in place to cover injuries to their players.
“These new regulations will also be introduced to the FA Women’s Championship from the start of the 2020-21 season, which will be jointly funded by the FA and the clubs.”
But for Bryan, as well as the physical toll of having to recover from her injury, there is also a mental health side to her injury.
“Player care is really important. With long-term injuries, people will struggle,” she said.
“I have been talking to a counsellor as and when I can. I have managed to get up and do my day job but it’s been tough as it’s in the health and fitness industry.
“I haven’t seen a lot of friends because I have isolated myself and buried my head a little bit.
“I don’t feel like doing my normal day-to-day activities. I hope now I have had a little bit of that taken off my shoulders for releasing the statement.”
BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC in 2019, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.