England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff will miss next month's test series against West Indies after returning from the Indian Premier League to undergo knee surgery, the England and Wales Cricket Board said on Friday.
Flintoff suffered pain from a torn meniscus in his right knee after playing for the Chennai Super Kings. He will undergo keyhole surgery next week and the ECB said they expected him to be out of action for three to five weeks.
That would enable him to return in time for the Twenty20 World Cup in June and the Ashes series against Australia starting in July.
"This sort of degenerative injury though is one that could have happened at any time any where. The procedures we put in place meant that the ECB medical staff were alerted about the problem immediately and we thank Chennai for their co operation," ECB chief medical officer Nick Peirce said in a statement.
Hugh Morris, England Cricket managing director, added: "Andrew has been extremely unlucky with injuries but if there is one saving grace it is that the injury has occurred now rather than on the eve of either the World Twenty20 or the Ashes.
"Having the surgery now means that Flintoff should be available for both those events although he is certain to miss the test series against West Indies."
England play two tests and three one dayers against West Indies, starting on May 6.
This knee problem is the latest in a long line of injuries to dog Flintoff, 31, who had repeated operations after missing long periods of action with ankle problems.
He was forced out of England's test series in West Indies over the winter with a hip injury, although he returned to play in the one day internationals.
Despite the ECB's claim that the injury could have occurred at any time, the governing body is likely to come under renewed criticism for its decision to let Flintoff and other England players take part in the IPL weeks before the West Indies series.
England will announce their team for the first test at Lord's on April 29. The final 15 and captain for the Twenty20 World Cup as well as the squad for the one day internationals against West Indies will be announced on May 1.