Chris Kirkland has badly damaged his cruciate knee ligament and faces a year out of football. The news was broken to both the Liverpool goalkeeper and his club yesterday, as tests were taken to find out how severely the anterior ligament was torn or ruptured in the collision with the Crystal Palace striker Dele Adebola in Sunday's FA Cup tie. The England prospect will have surgery to repair the problem once the initial swelling has died down.
Liverpool can turn to Jerzy Dudek, who had been dropped after a series of blunders, for an experienced keeper, but the timing is hard on Kirkland. Anfield insiders believed that the England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, was considering him for next month's friendly against Australia, and that he had the chance to jump to the head of the list to succeed David Seaman.
Many players have recovered fully from knee ligament surgery, but the severity of Kirkland's injury is such that recuperation after the operation may be long and difficult. The loan move to Crewe of Liverpool's third-choice keeper, Pegguy Arphexad, may be blocked after Kirkland's injury. With another Frenchman, Patrice Luzi, the only other senior keeper on the books, Liverpool will put Arphexad in their squad to face Arsenal in the Premiership tomorrow instead.