Knee surgery set to rule England and Chelsea's Fran Kirby out of World Cup

Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring for England against Northern Ireland at UEFA 2022.

Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring for England against Northern Ireland at UEFA 2022. Credit: Christopher Lee/UEFA/Getty Images

European champions England have been dealt a further blow with the news that influential forward Fran Kirby will miss the World Cup as she undergoes knee surgery.

The Chelsea playmaker, who has scored 17 goals in 65 caps for her nation, has been on the sidelines for the past three months after injuring her knee in a Conti Cup clash with West Ham.

29-year-old Kirby joins captain Leah Williamson, who misses the tournament with an ACL injury, on the treatment table, while Euros top scorer Beth Mead is also a major doubt.

Both Williamson and Mead missed out on Arsenal’s Champions League semi-final defeat to Wolfsborg on Monday as they lost 5-4 on aggregate after extra time.

Top seeds England face Haiti, Denmark and China in World Cup Group D with games in Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide.

Knee injuries have been a recurring theme of the pre-World Cup period with Ireland winger Jess Ziu also set to miss out after rupturing her ACL.

Vera Pauw's side face Australia in a sold-out opener at the 82.000-seater Stadium Australia in Sydney before trips to Perth and Brisbane to face Canada and Nigeria.

A resigned Kirby tweeted: “Unfortunately after a few months of rehab the decision has 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.

“I’m absolutely gutted to announce 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.”