Rachel Unitt to miss rest of season and Euro 2013 with knee injury

Birmingham's Rachel Unitt

England defender Rachel Unitt will miss the rest of the season and Euro 2013 because of a serious knee injury.

The 30-year-old, who has 102 caps, damaged her anterior cruciate ligament during Birmingham's 1-1 Continental Cup draw with Lincoln on Sunday.

A further scan on Tuesday revealed the extent of the problem.

Unitt, one of only six female England players to have gained more than 100 caps, missed the 2012 London Olympics with a foot injury.

She joins fellow international left-back Claire Rafferty, of Chelsea, on the sidelines with the same injury.

Furthermore, England captain Casey Stoney's preparations for Euro 2013 have been hampered by a torn hamstring, keeping her out of action for up to a month.

Stoney, another of England's centurions, can play at left-back if necessary.

The season-ending injuries to Unitt and Rafferty, along with Stoney's set-back, leave England manager Hope Powell short of cover at left-back for the European Championship in Sweden this summer, with Arsenal captain Steph Houghton the only experienced player at international level in that position.

Birmingham's Kerys Harrop is an alternative and earned her first call-up to the England squad in March, while Bristol captain Corinne Yorston has six international caps.

England also have doubts over influential forward Kelly Smith, who is returning from a fibula injury, and midfielder Karen Carney, recovering from an ankle problem sustained during England's 1-0 win over Canada to lift the Cyprus Cup in March.

To add to the long injury list, Everton goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis is expected to be out for up to six weeks with a thigh injury.

Powell's side start their Euro 2013 campaign in Sweden against Spain on 12 July, before matches against Russia and France in group C.

The England coach is set to name her final squad for the finals on Monday 17 June.

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