Emma Hayes has said Fran Kirby “won’t be available for club or country for the foreseeable future” as doctors search for answers to the Chelsea and England forward’s fatigue problem.
Kirby missed much of 2019-20 with pericarditis, a condition affecting the fluid-filled sac around the heart, but returned last season to collect player of the year awards from the Professional Football Association, the Football Writers’ Association and Women’s Super League. She had carried her sublime form into the new campaign but has not featured for club or country since February and, with four WSL games left and less than three months to the Euros, time is against her.
Writing on social media, Kirby said: “I’m sad that I have to write to you all another message like this. With this being an ongoing issue throughout my career, it was time to put my health first. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to message, I’m doing everything to try and come back once again. But until then, I will be Chelsea and the Lionesses’ biggest fan with you all.”
“She’s been suffering a lot with fatigue,” said Hayes as Chelsea prepared for Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final at Arsenal. “I don’t have a definitive reason why that is, we don’t know, but we’re trying to get to the bottom of it and find the right solutions for Fran because this is something that’s been ongoing and, unfortunately, until we get to the bottom of it she won’t be available for selection.”
The Chelsea manager added: “Forget the athlete, she’s a human being and she’s struggling and we’ve got to get to the bottom of that. Until we get to the bottom of it and understand some of the underlying reasons for that fatigue I’d just be speculating. We’re going through a process of elimination to try and determine why she’s struggling like she is …
“This has been ongoing for a number of years, if I’m honest, and I think we need to give the time to find the right support so that we can come up with a diagnosis, and then with a diagnosis you can come up with the right strategies.”