England forward Fran Kirby will undergo knee surgery and miss the women’s World Cup, the Chelsea player said on Tuesday, adding to a growing list of English players sidelined with knee injuries.
England captain Leah Williamson was the latest to be ruled out last month with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while Beth Mead, who also ruptured her ACL in November, has not returned to action.
The injury is also a blow to Chelsea, which is third in the Women’s Super League, seven points behind leader Manchester United with three games in hand.
“Unfortunately after a few months of rehab the decision has been made that I will require surgery on my knee. I have been trying my best to not have to undergo this but unfortunately my progress has been limited due to the issue in my knee,” Kirby said in a statement.
“I’m absolutely gutted to announce that this means my season is over and I will not be able to make the World Cup in the summer.
“I’m going to be doing everything possible to be ready for the start of next season and want to wish my team mates at Chelsea the best of luck for the rest of the season and my Lioness team mates the best of luck for the summer.”
Chelsea, which is also in the FA Cup final where it will face United later this month, said Kirby -- a two-time player of the year award winner -- would be out for a “significant period”.
England is in Group D along with Haiti, Denmark and China at the 32-team World Cup which kicks off on July 20 and will be held in Australia and New Zealand.
England was one of the favourites after winning the Euros last year.
Knee injuries have been a recurring theme in the past year with Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas missing a chunk of Barcelona’s season after tearing her ACL on the eve of the Euros in July. She did not return to the squad until last month.
Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema’s campaign also ended due to an ACL injury in December, with the Netherlands’ record goalscorer saying she would miss the World Cup after undergoing surgery.
Chelsea and England centre back Millie Bright, meanwhile, was ruled out for several more weeks with the knee injury she suffered in March.
Reeling from injuries to key players, both Arsenal and Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League in the semifinals.
England defender Lucy Bronze also underwent surgery on her right knee last week but is expected to return before the end of the season after Barcelona coach Jonatan Giraldez said she would be out for “just a couple of weeks”.
Simone Magill of Northern Ireland and France striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto have also damaged ACLs in the past year.
With the list of knee injuries -- particularly ACLs -- only growing, there have been calls for better research into the prevalence of injuries in women’s football.
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