Kelly Smith will only be able to sit and watch as England face France...
England are gearing up for what will be two of the biggest matchs in their history, but one of their key players will be forced to watch the match from the stands.
Kelly Smith, the Philadelphia Charge striker, will miss both games because she is recovering from a tear to her acute cruciate ligament, which she sustained playing in the USA professional league, WUSA, in the summer.
Kelly will certainly be missed over the two legs of the World Cup Play-Off Final against France, having been a key player in England's qualification for the Euro 2001 Finals. But she is certain that the team can do well in her absence and she will be flying over to England for the home leg at Crystal Palace FC on Thursday 17th October to cheer Hope Powell's team to victory.
TheFA.com caught up with Kelly at home in Philadelphia to find out how her rehabilitation is coming on and how she thinks England will fare in the World Cup games.
How is your rehabilitation from injury progressing?
Great, I am ahead of schedule with where I want to be. Just this week I have started increasing my running and am slowly beginning to integrate cutting. The knee feels good - it's still really stiff sometimes but that is expected.
What sort of rehab and physio work have you been doing?
We do some pool workouts to change it a bit, but it does get a bit boring doing the same stuff everyday. I am still doing a lot of balance work on the injured side and strengthening, but I am really excited to be running again. I have been juggling the ball and doing some small distance passes. It is so good to touch the ball, I have really missed it!
Have you been able to do normal things outside of the rehab, like walking your dog?
Oh yeah, I have been able to get around for about two months now. I am out of my brace - I had to be in that for a month and a half. If you saw me walking down the street you would think nothing was wrong with me, but its the trauma still inside of my knee and my body reacting and taking the new ligament that takes time.
When are you expecting to be back in full training?
I dont really know right now i am 4 months out of surgery. Most doctors allow you to come back after 6 months so that would put me in december. Some people come back at 5 months. I am just taking each day as it comes and then we will see.
Hope & some of her staff met up with you in the summer, was it nice to catch up with them?
Yeah it was great to see the staff in the USA. It's always good to hear an english accent. We met up in Washington where the freedom played the Charge. Unfortunatley it was a very scrapy game to watch. They were there for a research purpose to see how things were run over here, and to make some contacts.
What did you think to the end of the WUSA campaign? Did you go to any of the play-off matches?
We made it to the semi final play-offs and again lost, this time to Washington 1-0. It was so frustrating sitting watching on the bench because I wanted to be out there so badly helping my team. That has been one of the toughest things sitting there knowing I have no influence on the game. The final game was played in Atlanta, but I didn't attend.
Have you been keeping up-to-date with England's play-off matches?
Of course. I get emails from the team doctor and physio telling me how we did. Also Sammy Britton gives me a report on the game over e-mail. It was a nightmare the day we played against Iceland away - I was a nervous wreck all day and I couldn't concentrate. I was checking the internet for the score but it wasn't posted yet. Then I had a message from the doc telling me about the 2-2 tie.
What do you think to the team's chances against France?
It is going to be very tough. It's all going to come down to who has the most bottle, who's going to take it to the next level and who can make the least mistakes. I think with Katie being out now, that has hurt the team a little but I am 100 per cent positive the starting XI will want this more than anything and will go out and get a result.
You must have some inside information on the France striker Marinette Pinchon - did you play with her at Philadelphia Charge?
I played with her in the first seven games of the season before my injury and we were just starting to connect. Marinette is an excellent forward. She is a work horse. Her runs off the ball are amazing she always seems to find that little steam to get in. Her finishing is what puts her above the rest, she is clinical around the box.
I cannot wait to play with her next season. She has already told me she is glad I am not playing in the World Cup game because it would be a lot harder for their team. Her coach is really pleased too, that's hard to take! I just hope Faye White and Mary Phillip play their top level game against her and keep her from scoring.