LONDON (Reuters) - Poland suffered a massive blow ahead of this week's crunch World Cup qualifier away to England when striker and talisman Robert Lewandowski was ruled out because of a knee injury on Monday.
Lewandowski injured his right knee just past the hour mark of Sunday's victory over Andorra and underwent scans on Monday. The Bayern Munich player is expected to be out for 10 days.
"Robert Lewandowski will not play in Wednesday's World Cup qualifying match against England in London due to an injury," the Polish Football Association said on their website.
"Clinical and imaging studies have shown damage to the collateral ligament of the right knee. The short time remaining until the next match of the national team excludes the participation of the national team captain in this match."
The 32-year-old Lewandowski has been in scintillating form this season and already has struck 42 goals for Bayern in all competitions this season. He scored twice for Poland in the 3-0 win over Andorra in the Group I fixture.
Lewandowski is on track to break Gerd Mueller's 1971-72 Bundesliga season record of 40 league goals in one campaign, having already bagged 35 with 8 league games left.
His injury will almost certainly rule him out of Bundesliga leaders Bayern's top-of-the-table clash with second-placed RB Leipzig on Saturday in which Bayern begin four points clear.
Poland are expected to be the biggest threat to England in the group but having already dropped points in a draw with Hungary, Wednesday's Wembley meeting is crucial to their hopes of challenging for top spot which would bring automatic qualification for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Lewandowski has scored 66 goals for Poland from 118 appearances and would have represented the first real examination of an England defence that has not been tested in easy wins over San Marino and Albania.
England top the group with six points followed by Poland and Hungary with four and Albania on three.
Despite the importance of the game, Poland said Lewandowski cannot be risked.
"That would carry too much risk of aggravating the injury. This decision is the only right one, bearing in mind the upcoming Euro 2020 tournament," the statement added.
"Robert Lewandowski will return to the club, where he will undergo further rehabilitation."
Poland coach Paulo Sousa has other options in attack with the likes of Hertha Berlin's Krzysztof Piatek, Olympique de Marseille's Arkadiusz Milik and PAOK's Karol Swiderski who scored on his international debut after replacing Lewandowski against Andorra.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christain Radnedge)