Vickery adds to England casualty list

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The Independent Online

England have been dealt another major injury setback with the loss of World Cup winner Phil Vickery from their autumn Tests.

Vickery's club Wasps say he faces a rehabilitation period "in excess of three months" following a pending neck operation.



It will sideline him from Twickenham appointments with Australia, Argentina and New Zealand next month, and must put in serious doubt any participation during this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.



Vickery's injury comes less than 24 hours after his fellow prop Andrew Sheridan was sidelined for up to four months following a shoulder dislocation.

In a statement, Wasps said: "Due to an exacerbation of neck pain suffered during the Wasps versus Racing-Metro game at Adams Park (on October 11), Phil Vickery has been closely monitored over the last week by the club's medical team.

"It was deemed necessary that Phil should be reviewed further by a consultant neurosurgeon.



"Subsequently a collective decision by Phil, the consultant, Wasps' medical team and England has been made this week to progress with surgery to his neck.



"This will entail a rehab period in excess of three months."



Vickery, England's World Cup captain in France two years ago, made a successful recovery from neck and back injuries earlier in his career.



But the 33-year-old, who has won 73 England caps and made five Test match appearances for the British and Irish Lions, now faces another long road back to fitness.

England manager Martin Johnson is now left with a front-row injury crisis.

He currently has just three fit props - Tim Payne, Julian White and David Wilson - in his senior elite squad, while England Saxons props Matt Mullan and Dan Cole are also injured.



Johnson is due to name a revised elite squad next Monday, and there could be promotion from the Saxons group for players like Gloucester loosehead Nick Wood and Saracens prospect Tom Mercey.



The loss of Vickery is just the latest in a succession of injury blows to hit England prior to the autumn Tests.



Full-back Delon Armitage, centre Riki Flutey, hooker Lee Mears and flanker Tom Rees had already been ruled out of next month's action, before Sheridan and Vickery joined the casualty list.



And things are not a whole lot better among the Saxons group either, with their injury absentees including Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani and Gloucester back-row forward Luke Narraway.



England tackle Australia at Twickenham on November 7, before facing Argentina seven days later and then New Zealand.



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