Tim Brown's 2010 FIFA World Cup™ dream could be over before it has begun after he fractured his shoulder during New Zealand's 2-1 friendly loss to Australia in Melbourne on Monday

The All Whites vice-captain fell heavily on his shoulder in a bruising first half at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and did not appear for the second spell. He went to hospital for scans which revealed the fracture and he has now been ruled out of New Zealand's upcoming FIFA World Cup warm-up matches against Serbia, Slovenia and Chile in Europe.

Coach Ricki Herbert will give Brown, who has been a key component in getting the All Whites to the FIFA World Cup, every chance to rejoin the squad in South Africa but if surgery is necessary it is unlikely the hardworking midfielder will recover in time for the tournament. Brown has returned to New Zealand for further assessment.

Herbert has seven players on standby as injury cover for his 23-man squad and Wellington midfielder Cole Peverley is considered a possible replacement should Brown be ruled out. The All Whites open their campaign against Slovakia in Rustenburg on 15 June.

There was more positive news regarding midfielder Leo Bertos who was stretchered off with a leg injury inside the first half-hour of Monday's game. Bertos, who was caught in crude tackles by Vince Grella and Tim Cahill in quick succession, suffered a nasty gash to his lower leg but avoided serious injury and has been cleared to travel to Europe.