Vaughan injury 'not career threatening' says surgeon

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The surgeon treating Michael Vaughan is confident that the England captain's latest injury is not career-threatening.

Vaughan will see Derek Bickerstaff, a knee specialist at Sheffield's Thornbury Hospital, today and the news should be better than he expected.

Vaughan arrived back in England yesterday evening after suffering a recurrence of the knee injury that wrecked his pre-Christmas tour of Pakistan. It was hoped that surgery had corrected the problem and, for the first time in his career, the England captain is worried about his future.

"This is the first time that I have begun to have long-term concerns about my knee," said Vaughan in Nagpur. "I am still very enthusiastic and optimistic about the game, so I am not for one minute thinking this is the end of my career. I won't allow it to be. But I need to go away, get some good advice and do as much as I can to get it right."

The fast bowler Simon Jones, who twisted his left knee in India, will also see Bickerstaff today.

When asked to comment on the speculation that Vaughan's injury could jeopardise his career, Bickerstaff said: "I would be very surprised if that was the case. From initial reports I have had from India there is nothing which particularly worries me that this is a career-threatening injury for him.

"It is an area which does not heal itself, so it is more of an issue of managing the problem because athletes do a lot more weight-bearing on the knee. Test cricketers never get any let-up at all and get a chance to rest it. I would be surprised if he needed more surgery but it is almost impossible to say when he will be back."

Bickerstaff has worked with both players before. He performed the surgery on Vaughan's knee in December after the captain flew home from England's tour of Pakistan.

Bickerstaff also helped Jones in his recovery after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the first Test in Brisbane on England's last Ashes tour in 2002-03.

Jones's new injury appears to be "a simple cartilage tear", Bickerstaff said. "This is a very common problem in athletes."

Vaughan's right knee has troubled him throughout his career. He has had three operations on the joint prior to this setback, along with numerous injections and several scares. Each operation will have weakened the joint and, at the age of 31, it is unlikely to improve significantly.

Vaughan accepts that there may come a time when he has to compromise. In his case it would mean stopping playing one-day cricket, but he will be reluctant to do this just yet as the World Cup is just over a year away.

"I have not considered giving up the one-day captaincy, but I realise I may have to compromise," Vaughan said. "The next year is very important, with the World Cup fast approaching. One of my ambitions is to go with England to the World Cup and do very, very well."

Vaughan has accepted that he will play no part in the Test series in India. He is yet to rule out his chances of returning for the one-day matches which start in four weeks' time, but realistically his next game will be for Yorkshire in mid-April.

"I don't think we can set a date ," he said. "I just want to get back and find out exactly what is going on.

"In Pakistan I tried to play on, but I couldn't play to my full potential. I did not want that to happen on this trip. I felt OK at Loughborough [England's training facility] and during the first week of the tour, but I started to feel it as soon as the workload increased. You can do all the bike work and the shuttles, but once you get on grass with your spikes on it is a different proposition."

The return of Vaughan, Jones and Marcus Trescothick has left Andrew Flintoff in charge of a weakened and inexperienced England for the first Test against India, which started today. And Vaughan is apprehensive about the effect that the captaincy could have on Flintoff. "I was involved in the decision to pick him and I thought he was the obvious choice," Vaughan said. "But I am not too sure how he will cope. Fred has an enormous workload and he could have difficulties but he is the one player who could do it.

"He has had a phenomenal year, but it has probably come at a time when you would not want him to have it because you want him to carry on playing as he is. But circumstances have dictated that he is doing it and he can find out whether he really wants the captaincy."

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