All Whites defender Liam Graham suffers serious knee injury

Liam Graham had broken into the All Whites team this year.
Nigel Roddis

Liam Graham had broken into the All Whites team this year.

All Whites defender Liam Graham has suffered a serious knee injury that means he could miss next year's Confederations Cup in Russia.

The 24-year-old fullback ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee playing for New Zealand in a World Cup qualifier in New Caledonia earlier this month.

His English club Chesterfield, who play in League One (England's third-tier), confirmed that a scan had revealed the extent of the injury, which means he will miss the rest of their season.

Chesterfield's physio Roger Wylde told the club's website that Graham's initial recovery period would be six months, with the injury a lot worse than first feared by New Zealand football, who believed the defender had a menisicus problem.

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"While playing for New Zealand two weeks ago he jumped to head a ball, landed and twisted, immediately feeling pain in his left knee," said Wylde.

"He carried on a for a few minutes but was then brought off and assessed out there.

"Initially the New Zealand physio team thought it was an issue with the meniscus and when he arrived back I agreed but felt more laxity then I would expect in the joint at the ACL."

Graham returned to Chesterfield, who signed him in 2015, after winning his third and fourth All Whites caps in two games against New Caledonia, with New Zealand prevailing 2-0 in Albany before a 0-0 draw in New Caledonia.

He has started New Zealand's last four matches, with his debut coming in the 2-1 defeat to Mexico in October.

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His last All Whites outing is where Graham picked up his serious injury, though, which comes in a season where he's broken into respective first-teams at club and international level.

Wylde added that Graham would have reconstruction surgery this week ahead of a long road to recovery.

"Liam went for a scan and that revealed a ruptured ACL and an effected meniscus. We sought the advice of a specialist in London and he agreed.

"The prognosis is six months for his recovery, which is really unfortunate for him with his first-team and international career now starting to take off."

Graham will certainly miss New Zealand's next clashes - a double-header against Fiji in March - and potentially next year's Confederation Cup in June.

 - Stuff

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