Shaw desperate to make England comeback

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The Independent Online

Simon Shaw hopes to make his England comeback in time for next month's autumn finale against New Zealand at Twickenham.

Shaw has been out with a fractured metatarsal and has not played since the Lions tour but he expects to return to action in Wasps' Guinness Premiership clash with Leeds in 10 days time.

The 36-year-old looks set to miss England's matches against Australia and Argentina, instead choosing the All Blacks as a more realistic target.

"I ran on Tuesday and yesterday with no ill effects. In a perfect world and if the progress continues, I would hope to play against Leeds," he said.

"I can't say for definite because I reached the same sort of stage three weeks back and had a setback.

"I've spoken to Martin Johnson and we both want to get me back playing.

"I would want at least two or three games under my belt before I consider playing for England."

Johnson is missing six guaranteed Test starters for the entire autumn, a statistic that has reignited the debate over player welfare.

Shaw, a veteran of 52 caps, believes the demands on players are too high.

"I don't necessarily think the game is the cause of all the injuries rather the length of the season," he said.

"Everyone bangs on about the amount of games people are expected to play, I don't even think it's that.

"It's the expectation on the players to be fit for an entire season. Whether they are playing or not is almost irrelevant.

"But to be training every week for an entire season and then perhaps a summer tour and then a pre-season tour and then it's back into the season again.

"It's pretty much all year round. You probably get a maximum of four proper weeks of rest and that's if you're very, very lucky.

"The stresses and strains rugby players put their bodies through, not just during games but week in week out through training, is enormous.

"If you do that over a long period of time, you are going to break down and it needs to be looked at."