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Wambach has surgery; Cheney is replacement

July 17, 2008 |  6:07 pm

Lauren Cheney, in blue, and Rhian Wilkinson of Canada vie for the ball during a June 21 match in South Korea. 

Soccer player Abby Wambach underwent surgery today to repair a broken left leg that will keep her out of the Beijing Games. A titanium rod was inserted into her lower left leg during an operation in San Diego by Dr. Damion Valletta, U.S. Soccer's orthopedic surgeon.

Wambach was resting comfortably this afternoon, the Associated Press reported, and will be able to start full, weight-bearing activities in five to six weeks.

"Everything went according to plan, there were no complications and small incisions were used to minimize the soft tissue irritability from the surgery,” Valletta told AP. “We’ll have her stay in the hospital until tomorrow, monitor the pain and control the swelling in her leg. We anticipate that she will be discharged tomorrow on crutches and will start being able to put a small amount of weight on the leg.”

Wambach broke her leg on Wednesday night in San Diego during a match with Brazil. She collided with a Brazilian defender during the first half and immediately signaled for help.

“It can sometimes take a year to return a professional player to her previous level of activity," Valletta said, "but the expectation is that we will have an aggressive rehab program and progress her weight-bearing rapidly to minimize her time lost for competition.”

Forward Lauren Cheney has replaced Wambach on the Olympic squad. The 20-year-old athlete was an alternate and has trained with the U.S. team all year. She has three goals in 12 international matches.

“There are obviously tons of emotions going through me right now,” Cheney said. “I have the deepest sorrow for Abby, but I am excited to be part of the 18 going to the Olympics."

The U.S. team's first Olympic game will be on Aug. 6 against Norway.

-- Greg Johnson

Photo: Lauren Cheney, foreground, in blue, and Rhian Wilkinson of Canada vie for the ball during a June 21 match in South Korea. Credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

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