Imagine if not one, not two, but three players from Celtic or Rangers or Manchester City or Chelsea were struck down with the same season-ending injury within weeks of each other.

There would not only be concern, there would be something akin to a public inquiry, and certainly there would be significant sums of money ploughed into finding the cause.

It has never happened in men’s football. It would never be allowed to get to that point.

Yet it is only when significant numbers of female athletes find themselves in this horror scenario that there is any realisation that perhaps something should be done to try to find out what is the root cause of these identical, severe injuries.

Last month, England’s woman’s football captain Leah Williamson ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which is one of the worst injuries an athlete can suffer.

Williamson was the third Arsenal women’s player in less than six months to suffer this injury, joining compatriot Beth Mead, who was the Euro 2022 player of the tournament, and Dutchwoman Vivianne Miedema, the Women’s Super League’s all-time top scorer.

They are on an astonishingly lengthy list of female athletes, and footballers in particular, across the globe to have suffered this fate, ending up on the physio table and in the rehab gym for months and, in the worst cases, more than a year.

At last, it has started to dawn on people that maybe there is more to this than bad luck.

Estimates suggest that female footballers are two to eight, yes eight, times more likely than their male counterparts to suffer this type of injury.

That is an astonishing statistic.

Yet as things stand, a miniscule percentage of sports science studies are carried out exclusively on women. In what is a growing field, still only six per cent of studies are women-only research and of that six per cent, less than 10 per cent are of a high enough quality for the findings to be trusted.

It is both shocking and appalling that there is such a dearth of reliable information for elite female athletes to draw upon.

A book released this month, entitled “The Female Body Bible: A Revolution in Women’s Health and Fitness” by Dr Emma Ross, Baz Moffat and Dr Bella Smith, highlights numerous areas in which the deficiency of research into female athletes is not only concerning, it is dangerous.

Evidence is emerging, as flagged up in this book, that not only do girls suffer concussion more frequently than boys, but they also have worse symptoms.

For coaches and teachers of young athletes to be assuming that concussion occurs to the same extent and presents itself in identical ways in both young male and female athletes is a danger to these female athletes’ health.

Another strong theme in the book is how significant a female athlete’s menstrual cycle is on both her likelihood of injury and how she will react to training.

For example, if strength and resistance training is front-loaded in the first half of a female’s cycle, they will get greater gains than would be the case if the same training was spread across the four weeks.

The lack of research is across the board when it comes to female injuries but with ACL injuries in particular, it remains worryingly unclear quite why women are so much more prone.

There is a strong suggestion that both the female anatomy and hormones play a part but without concrete evidence, little can be done to reduce the risk.

Females react differently to male athletes in so many areas, that to assume, as is currently the case, that identical training methods are appropriate, with identical results expected, is preposterous.

When the make-up of the female body is so different to that of the male, how have we got to this point of treating them the same, particularly when elite sport is about finding those one or two per cent that can make the difference at the highest level?

When the margins are so fine in elite sport, it is madness that maximising the effects of training on female athletes and reducing the risk of injury are areas that are almost entirely ignored.

Closer to home, Kyniska Advocacy, an initiative founded, in part, by Scotland athletics internationalist Mhairi MacLennan, and which works to implement policies that help develop and protect women’s sport and female athletes, has, in the past few weeks, released “The Female Athlete Health Report”, which highlights yet more of these issues regarding the lack of female-specific research in sport.

This report gathered responses from more than 750 female athletes from a range of sports and highlighted there are several areas which indicate that female athletes are not being well-served.

MacLennan’s co-founder, Kate Seary stated: “Across the board, athletes and coaches are misinformed on the basics of female athlete health, in turn limiting the performance potential, and most importantly, the health, of female athletes across the UK.”

If male athletes were being short-changed in terms of research into their bodies, you can be sure it would have been rectified far quicker.

It is time now to make sure female athletes get what they deserve, and that is world-class research to match the world-class sport they are playing.