England look set to be without one of their key stars for this summer's Women's World Cup, after it was revealed that Beth Mead is expected to miss out.
The Arsenal forward ruptured her ACL back in November but it was hoped that she would be fit enough to take a place on the plane to Australia and New Zealand.
However, England boss Sarina Wiegman, who on Tuesday named her squad for two upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Australia, is not expecting Mead to be available for selection for the World Cup.
|What||Women's World Cup 2023|
|Where||Australia and New Zealand|
|When||20th July to 20th August 2023|
|How to watch||BBC and ITV|
|Odds||USA 3/1, England 7/2, Spain 6/1, Germany 7/1|
Mead played a key role in helping the Lionesses' win the European Championship, winning the Golden Boot having scored six goals in the tournament.
The 27-year-old scored the first in the 4-0 semi-final win over Sweden and currently has 29 international goals to her name.
Her displays in last year's Euros helped her win the Sports Personality of the Year award, with England colleague Leah Williamson 25/1 to win the prestigious prize this year.
Even though her rehabilitation has gone well, the World Cup will come too soon for Mead and Wiegman has already discussed the situation with the player.
The England coach revealed: "It's being realistic, and she was very realistic. What we said now is, she's not in our plans now, just to really take the time to get back well.
"If a miracle happens and she goes [through recovery] so fast, we will reconsider it, but at this moment I don't expect that."
It means next month's two friendly internationals could now be crucial for Wiegman to finalise who will fill the void left by the forward.
With Mead facing the prospect of watching on TV at home and with Ellen White now retired, England need other stars to step up to the plate and deliver the goals.
The likes of Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kelly and Alessia Russo were involved in the Euros squad, but there will also be other forwards pushing for starting roles.
Chelsea's Lauren James, Everton's Jess Park and Katie Robinson of Brighton are included in the 25-player squad for the clash with Brazil on 6th April and then Australia – 12/1 to win the World Cup on home soil - on 11th April.
Even though she has previously featured regularly as a full-back for the Lionesses, Rachel Daly has been selected as a forward for the upcoming games.
The Aston Villa star is the highest-scoring England player in this season's WSL, with 13 goals in 16 matches for her club.
Beth England was seen as another potential replacement, but the Tottenham striker has been omitted from the squad despite scoring five goals in her last six WSL games.
When asked about the centre-forward situation, Wiegman insisted that "competition in that position is so high".