England's World Cup hopes have been dealt a severe blow with the news that star
England's World Cup hopes have been dealt a severe blow with the news that star striker Kelly Smith will be ruled out of the play-offs.
Smith tore her anterior cruciate ligament while playing for her club side Philadelphia Charge in the American professional league WUSA and is expected to have knee surgery in the next fortnight.
The recovery from surgery is expected to take six months, which puts the striker out for the rest of the WUSA season and out of England's World Cup play-off semi-final, with the two legs being played in August and September.
She would also miss the two-legged play-off final, should England progress, due to be contested in October and November this year. Smith is understandably devastated by the injury, sustained in a 0-0 draw against San Jose, which comes at a bad time for both club and country.
It came at a point when Smith had been impressing as the star player in the league so far, having scored four goals and three assists so far in her first season as captain of the team.
Another worry for the striker is the fact that her contract with Philadelphia will finish at the end of this season and she was hoping to have a full season - after an injury-ravaged campaign in the inaugural WUSA 2001 - to show her full potential. England's medical staff will keep a close eye on the striker and monitor her progress, but it is unlikely she will return to competitive action before Christmas.