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Tuesday, November 17, 1998 Published at 12:05 GMT

Atherton receives second jab

Mike Atherton holds his back during the Queensland clash

England physio Wayne Morton discusses Atherton's condition
Michael Atherton has received a further injection in an attempt to alleviate his long-standing back problem which continues to jeopardise his participation in Friday's first Test.

The former England skipper's club physio at Lancashire, Lawrie Brown, has revealed that Atherton suffers from a hereditary condition known as ankylosing spondylitis, which cripples tens of thousands of people in Britain and also ended the footballing career of Atherton's father.

The Lancashire opener has been troubled with the complaint ever since undergoing spinal surgery nine years ago and a recurrence of the problem forced him onto the sidelines on Sunday during England's tour match with Queensland in Cairns.

Atherton and physiotherapist Wayne Morton visited a Brisbane back specialist for further scans and a cortisone injection after a previous injection in Adelaide a week ago failed to ease the problem.

"We were hoping initially that we would not have to progress to stage two, but as he is obviously suffering a little we thought we would give it a go and see if we could actually knock it on the head while we are down here," Morton said.

"Today (Tuesday) he has taken it easy but tomorrow (Wednesday) we are hoping he will be up for a 100% full net and fitness test and we will assess any reaction from there.

"He had spinal surgery nearly nine years ago but he does have a tremendous injury record.

"He's probably played, in truth, as captain a lot worse than he is now, but he's very well aware that now he is not captain the responsibility changes to myself, to Alec and the rest of the team and he doesn't want to let anybody down."

Morton revealed that if the new injection failed, the next stage was rest and rehabilitation before an injection in another area of the back after a statutory period of time.

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