Belfast Telegraph

Chris Brunt out for six months after surgery, West Brom confirm

Midfielder's Northern Ireland Euro 2016 dreams in tatters after horrific injury

By Graham Luney

Chris Brunt will be out for six months after undergoing knee surgery, his club West Brom have confirmed.

The West Brom ace will not feature for Northern Ireland at the finals in France this summer after suffering cruciate ligament damage during Saturday's 3-2 win over Crystal Palace.

The shocking news was confirmed by a specialist yesterday, leaving the 31-year-old reflecting on the shocking reality that what would have been the pinnacle of his playing career has been ripped from his grasp.

Brunt's West Brom team-mate Jonas Olsson said he could understand how heartbroken the winger will be feeling. "It is a shattered dream for him obviously not to be able to represent his country in the Euros. But hopefully there is more to come from him," he said.

After Northern Ireland defied the odds to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals, Brunt - who was carried off just before half-time on Saturday - remarked: "You couldn't ask for a better script and it's difficult to put into words how good it feels."

But the dream has turned into a nightmare and international boss Michael O'Neill will now fear more of his star men will suffer the same fate ahead of Northern Ireland's first taste of major tournament action in 30 years.

The star’s injury came days after he was struck in the face by a coin thrown by an Albion fan at the end of the FA Cup fifth-round defeat at Reading.

It’s a savage personal blow to the former Sheffield Wednesday ace and also a huge setback to O’Neill, who could rely on Brunt to be one of his most dangerous and experienced performers.

Brunt could be facing as many as nine months out as he embarks on a long rehabilitation period.

The Belfast man has won 54 caps since making his Northern Ireland debut against Switzerland back in 2004.

He played in eight of Northern Ireland’s matches during the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, playing the full 90 minutes in all but one of them, filling in at left-back, where he had also been performing at club level after being converted from a left winger.

Meanwhile, Leicester midfielder Andy King has called on the Foxes to finish the job and not let their title dreams end.

King scored in Leicester’s 2-2 draw with West Brom on Tuesday as Claudio Ranieri’s side dropped two points in their Premier League challenge.

And the Welshman insisted the Foxes cannot afford to blow all of their hard work during the run-in.

He said: “We have to make sure we finish strong to actually achieve something rather than say, ‘We had a good three-quarters of the season and it fizzled out’.

“It has been brilliant, it is hard to put your finger on it at the moment because we haven’t actually achieved anything this season yet.

“But we are enjoying the ride, I speak for everyone when I say we are playing full of confidence as you have seen but 10 games to go is a long way.”

It was a great night for the Foxes last night as title rivals Tottenham and Arsenal both suffered defeats.

Spurs’ bid to take over at the top of the Premier League was thwarted by West Ham while Swansea came from behind to beat the Gunners.

Northern Ireland have been drawn in Group C for the finals alongside Poland, Ukraine and world champions Germany. Their first match is against Poland in Nice on Sunday, June 12.


Belfast Telegraph