Fran Kirby: Injured Chelsea forward to miss World Cup in latest major England blow

Setback: Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby needs surgery to repair a knee problem  (PA)
Setback: Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby needs surgery to repair a knee problem (PA)

Fran Kirby has been ruled out of this summer’s Women’s World Cup in another major blow to England’s chances.

The Chelsea forward will undergo knee surgery and therefore not be available for the entirety of the forthcoming tournament in Australia and New Zealand, which starts in July.

Kirby joins the likes of inspirational captain Leah Williamson and Euro 2022 Golden Boot winner and player of the tournament Beth Mead in missing the World Cup as Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman contends with a worsening injury crisis, with vice-skipper Millie Bright also sidelined at present. Barcelona’s Lucy Bronze also underwent keyhole surgery on her knee last week.

The 29-year-old has not played for Chelsea since February due to an ongoing knee complaint and last featured for England in their goalless draw with the Czech Republic back in October.

Kirby has tried to avoid having surgery on the issue but that outcome is now unavoidable after a lack of progress in her recovery as she attempts to be ready for the start of next season.

"Following an injury sustained during our Continental League Cup semi-final against West Ham, Fran has been reviewed at Cobham by the Chelsea medical team,” Chelsea said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Following that review and further discussion with a specialist, Fran is set to undergo surgery and is expected to be sidelined for a significant period.

"Fran will begin a rehabilitation programme with support from the club's medical team. Everyone at Chelsea sends their best wishes to Fran in her recovery."

In her own update published via social media, Kirby wrote: “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."