SCOTLAND head coach Anna Signeul says she is devastated for her star player Kim Little, who has been forced out of this summer's Euros after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament.

Her club, Arsenal, announced the bad news in a statement yesterday afternoon, saying it happened during training earlier this week. Neither the FA WSL club nor Signeul was willing to confirm at this stage that Little will miss the Netherlands tournament, but it normally takes six-nine months to fully recover from such injuries.

Scotland's first Euro group game is against England in Utrecht on July 19. If the injury is as bad as feared, the 26-year-old could still be out of action when the opening World Cup qualifiers, under new head coach Shelley Kerr, get underway in October.

“I can't comment on the length of time Kim will be out,” Signeul said. “It's too early for that because we have to wait to see the full extent of the injury.

“We are devastated. First and foremost for Kim, and for the team as well of course.”

It is understood that Little's training ground injury occurred on Tuesday, the same day as Signeul was announcing her initial 20-player squad for next month's friendlies against Romania and Sweden.

The Swede will add the final three players on Monday and was confident that one of them would be Little. She returned to the Arsenal bench last Saturday after missing the club's opening five Spring Series games, and Scotland's last three, with a hamstring tear.

According to Signeul, the hamstring had healed, but Little was feeling her calf a little tight after a full week's training. She was scheduled to re-appear against Manchester City on Sunday, allowing the head coach to add her to the squad for the Romania and Sweden games.

Losing Little, who is widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, is a massive blow for Scotland ahead of their first major championship. It is also the stage she has always aspired to play on.

Despite having defensive duties, the Aberdonian has scored 48 goals in her 121 Scotland games - just one behind main striker Jane Ross in the current squad. She also started all four games for Team GB at the London Olympics in 2012.

Ironically, the only other Scot in the Olympic squad, central defender Ifeoma Dieke, also suffered an ACL rupture in the second game of the tournament, against Cameroon.

It is estimated that women footballers are six times more likely than their male counterparts to suffer serious ACL injuries. Hibernian forward Lizzie Arnot will also miss the Euros after rupturing hers in a club game earlier this year.

Central defender Rachel Corsie ruptured her ACL during Scotland's second play-off match against Spain for the final place in Euro 2013.

Yet another Scotland player, Fiona Brown, has already had two ACL injuries – one to each knee – despite being only 22. She made a full recovery from both and is now playing professional football in Sweden with Eskilstuna United.