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Fran Kirby: England forward ruled out of World Cup with injury as crisis grows

Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby was injured against West Ham in the Continental Cup semi-finals on February 9; nearly three months on the club have announced she will require surgery which will sideline her for 'a significant period'

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Karen Carney reacts to the news that Chelsea’s Fran Kirby will miss the remainder of the WSL season as well as the World Cup in the summer

England's Fran Kirby is out of the World Cup after confirming she will require surgery on a knee injury sustained almost three months ago.

Kirby has not played for Chelsea or England since she was forced off with a knee injury in the Continental Cup semi-final win over West Ham on February 9, and will now miss the remainder of the current WSL season as her club chase a fourth consecutive league title.

England are already missing captain Leah Williamson and Euro 2022 player of the tournament Beth Mead for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in July.

After Chelsea released a statement on Tuesday confirming Kirby will have surgery and would be absent for a "significant period", the forward confirmed she would remain sidelined until after this summer's World Cup, missing out on the title race as well as the Women's FA Cup final against Man Utd on May 14.

"I've been trying my best not to have to undergo surgery, but unfortunately my progress has been limited due to the issue in my knee," she said on Twitter.

"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."

The 29-year-old, who won Euro 2022 with the Lionesses after starting all six games, has had a torrid time with injuries in recent years. She was diagnosed with heart condition pericarditis in 2019, and did not play between February and May last year due to extreme fatigue.

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She added on Twitter: "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."

Kirby travelled with her team-mates for their ultimately unsuccessful Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona last week, with manager Emma Hayes revealing she had stepped up her training back onto grass at that point, before she was struck down by the latest long-term set-back.

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Watch all of Kirby's WSL goals from the 2022-23 season

Chelsea will retain their WSL crown if they win all six of their remaining league games in Kirby's absence.

Her fitness ahead of the next domestic season may also be a cause for concern for the Blues, with the WSL restarting on September 29, only 40 days after the conclusion of the World Cup.

Carney: Kirby blow caps difficult month for Wiegman

"It's another one of our key players who won't be available," Karen Carney told Sky Sports.

"I think we've seen over the last few games in particular that we've really missed Fran Kirby in terms of her movement, rhythm in the midfield area and creativity.

"Emma Hayes would recognise at Chelsea how much they've missed her. It's a massive blow but it's for the group to step up and pull together.

"The manager has to find solutions in what has been a difficult month for Sarina [Wiegman] and her squad but hopefully we can move forward."

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