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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 15:31 GMT
Kirkland injury boost
Kirkland will be out for the rest of the season
Kirkland will be out for the rest of the season
Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland will not need surgery to repair the damaged knee ligament that has prematurely ended his season.

Specialist knee surgeon Richard Steadman has told the 21-year-old - who tore his cruciate ligament during an FA Cup tie against Crystal Palace - that the tear should heal naturally.

The tear should heal naturally and that is a boost for everyone

Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson

"It's really good news on Chris, he doesn't need an operation after all," said Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson.

"He won't play again this season but he should be okay to start pre-season training with the rest of the lads.

"If he had needed an operation the chances are that his rehabilitation would have overlapped with that and it is very important, even for a goalkeeper, that they get their groundwork done during the summer.

"We've spoken to Chris and he's happy with the verdict. No-one likes to go under the surgeon's knife. The tear should heal naturally and that is a boost for everyone."

Kirkland, tipped as a future England international, played 15 games for Liverpool this season after replacing Pole Jerzy Dudek, conceding 14 goals.

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