Michael Owen has been ruled out for the rest of the season, thus ending the slim hopes he had of making England’s World Cup squad.
The Manchester United striker suffered a hamstring injury during Sunday’s Carling Cup final victory over Aston Villa.
Owen was handed a starting role ahead of in-form Wayne Rooney at Wembley, but the forward pulled up during the first half on the heavy pitch and limped out of the action to be replaced by Rooney.
Scans have now revealed that the hamstring problem sustained by the 30-year-old will keep him out of action for the remainder of the campaign and he will undergo surgery on Monday.
“It is a terrible blow for the lad,” said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. “It is more serious than we thought.”
Owen said he was already looking forward to the start of next season.
“I have loved every minute of my first campaign with Manchester United and have already enjoyed some memorable moments,” he said.
“I am determined to come back at the start of next season in peak condition.”
Owen was always an outsider to be selected for England manager Fabio Capello’s squad having rarely been used since the Italian took charge.
But his return of 40 goals from 89 international appearances ensured that the speculation over his inclusion for the tournament in South Africa would not go away.
Owen has scored nine goals in all competitions this season, including a hat-trick in the Champions League win against Wolfsburg and an injury-time winner in September’s Manchester derby.