Arsenal footballer Kelly Smith accuses Sunderland defender Abby Holmes

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SUNDERLAND Ladies defender Abby Holmes has been accused of deliberately injuring Arsenal forward Kelly Smith.

The England legend was preparing to shoot when she was fouled by Holmes in Arsenal’s 4-1 win in April and was helped off the pitch.

I have thought about what to say about this tackle but there is no hiding the fact: the tackle was malicious


Smith wrote on her blog: “I’ve kept quiet about my injury over the past three weeks but the time is right now for me to talk about it and the tackle that means that as I write this I am sitting at home with my right leg in a plaster cast after my three torn ligaments were operated on two days ago.

“The operation went well and, after two weeks in plaster, then longer in a boot and then a process of rehab, I hope to be fully fit in three to four months’ time.

“Right now, though, all I can think about is the tackle that ended my season and could have ended my career. And, if I hadn’t retired from international football, it would have definitely ended my world cup this summer.

“I came off the bench in the second half for Arsenal against Sunderland at Borehamwood on April 26th. I’d been on for nine minutes when I ran into the opposing box and was about to shoot when Abby Holmes came in from the side and took me out.

“I have thought about what to say about this tackle but there is no hiding the fact: the tackle was malicious and designed to do one thing only - to do serious damage. I have watched the tackle twice since on video so this isn’t an emotional verdict. It was a disgraceful tackle and one fully intended to hurt me. I have had a lot of reaction from both my team-mates and others in the game and the verdict is the same: Holmes shouldn’t be playing in this league.

“Sure, she apologised as I got stretchered off and Sunderland subsequently apologised to Arsenal. That’s all well and good but she should be thinking more about how to tackle, not how to apologise. Those type of tackles end careers. Does she really want to end someone’s career?

“She’s clearly not good enough to be playing at this level and while she gets a three match ban I, in effect, get a 15 game ban in the league as well as cup games on top. I am totally laid up, can barely move to make a coffee or have a shower and face the mental challenge yet again of recovering from a long-term injury. Twice before I have been the victim of a seriously bad challenge, once in America and once playing for England against France. Both resulted in broken legs and some serious mental repercussions.

“This time it’s a little different. I am not feeling sorry for myself. I know many, many people are in far worse situations in life than me. I have good people around me and I can assure you I will get through this.

“I am more angry than sad. I don’t know whether I’m seen as a good scalp in the women’s game because of who I am but I am sick of being on the receiving end of challenges that are full-on physical attacks. I’ll worry about the future later. For now I am fully focussed on recovering.

“But I am absolutely furious and I can’t get that tackle out of my head.”

Sunderland have made no comment.