Vickery to test injured shoulder

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Phil Vickery, the England tight head whose chronic injury problems have kept the Gloucester medical team in gainful employment for well over a season, is 90 per cent certain to materialise on the Kingsholm bench for tomorrow's important Premiership fixture with Harlequins.

Phil Vickery, the England tight head whose chronic injury problems have kept the Gloucester medical team in gainful employment for well over a season, is 90 per cent certain to materialise on the Kingsholm bench for tomorrow's important Premiership fixture with Harlequins.

The West Countrymen, already shaken by Ian Jones' decision to resign the captaincy following a run of defeats, are so desperate for front-row cover that they are rushing Vickery back to the coalface rather earlier than expected.

The move will hardly endear Gloucester to the England manager Clive Woodward. The last thing Woodward wants is his most explosive prop forward risking his suspect shoulder without a clean bill of health, especially as the most powerful scrummagers in world rugby, the Argentinians, visit Twickenham in November.

"He's not yet 100 per cent in terms of his conditioning and strength, but he knows we're in trouble and is prepared to give it a go," John Brain, the Gloucester forwards coach, said yesterday. It is difficult not to feel some sympathy for the Kingsholmites: Trevor Woodman, their other England prop, is on the sick list until the new year, while Andy Deacon, a dependable old-stager, has calf problems.

Bath are confident that Simon Emms, the former Bristol loose head, will soon be eligible for Premiership activity following a thawing of their frosty relationship with Llanelli. Emms moved to the Recreation Ground from Stradey Park in the summer, but when Llanelli's new front-row recruit, Robert Mills, broke a leg in pre-season training, they tried to bind Emms to the remaining year on his contract. The ensuing dispute saw Emms being marginalised under Premiership registration regulations. Yesterday, however, an agreement looked imminent.

Newcastle will have Michael Stephenson at full-back for tomorrow's home game with Wasps following the England under-21 cap's recovery from shoulder trouble. Epi Taione has been dropped from the left wing following the Tongan's butter-fingered display at Bath last week; another Pacific islander, Va'aiga Tuigamala, replaces him. Up front, Ross Beattie moves from No 8 to blind side to cover for the suspended Richard Arnold.

Comments