Six-month recovery on knee rules Vaughan out of Ashes

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England must carry out their Ashes defence under a new leader this winter after Michael Vaughan was ruled out of the entire series due to his knee injury.

Vaughan, the first England captain to hold aloft the urn in 18 years last summer, will be on the sidelines for up to six months, so the captaincy will be passed to Andrew Flintoff, fitness permitting.

Vaughan, 31, underwent surgery on his right knee for the fourth time on Monday in a bid to get his career back on track.

He has not played for his country since the pre-Christmas tour of Pakistan, a trip which was cut short when he returned home for a routine clear-out operation on the joint.

Initial estimations that it will take between four to six months for Vaughan's rehabilitation were yesterday confirmed by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Nevertheless, the England management remain hopeful that he will lead the one-day team into the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean next March and April.

"Michael underwent arthroscopic surgery during which the surgeon carried out micro-fracturing to a worn joint surface within the knee," read an ECB statement. "Following the operation, the specialist advises that rehabilitation must be taken slowly in order to give the surgery the best chance of success."