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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 October, 2003, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Collingwood has time on his side
By Martin Gough

Spot the odd man out from this group: Vaughan, Anderson, Butcher, Collingwood, Flintoff, Giles, Hussain and Trescothick.

Paul Collingwood sets of for Bangaldehs full of confidence
It's been a great year for English cricket and it was great sitting back in the armchair and watching it all
Paul Collingwood
All but two have lengthy Test pedigrees, another is a pace bowler who has had observers in rapture for much of the last 12 months.

One does not even have a Test cap to his name.

But it is a mark of the esteem in which England hold Paul Collingwood that he is one of just eight players to have been handed a 12-month central contract.

It is also a mark of the faith the selectors have in the Durham all-rounder after a horrible shoulder injury kept him out of action for much of the season.

Now, while most of those preparing to tour Bangladesh are talking about grasping opportunities the 27-year-old knows he is in a privileged position.

From what they have said in the last two years, England's management give the impression they would like 11 Collingwoods on the team.

His batting has become increasingly important to the one-day side, his bowling has the potential to win matches in the right conditions and he is a demon fielder.

And he could have expected to make a name for himself in the Test side this summer had it not been for that injury.

I've got 95% movement [in the shoulder] which is fantastic considering the damage I did to it
Paul Collingwood
Ironically the batsman involved in the incident at a low-key friendly is the man he could replace in the Test XI - Andrew Flintoff, who is at home with a groin problem.

"Flintoff pushed one up to mid-on off the spinner," he recalls in an interview with the BBC Sport website.

"I tried to block it off at straight midwicket and dived to my left but rotated in mid-air and got my arm caught behind me trying to reach for the ball.

"All my body weight went down on to it and the arm had nowhere to go other than out of its socket."

This was more than just a dislocated shoulder, though.

"It didn't tickle," he says with a dark chuckle.

"It pulled the bicep tendon right off, ripped the cartilage off the top of the socket and gouged a groove out of the humerus [arm bone] itself."

"The surgeon opened me up straight away and he was a bit shocked what damage had been done."

Collingwood is a potential match-winning bowler
38 matches
874 runs at 32.37
Highest: 100 v SL, Perth, 2002/03
16 wkts at 41.56
Best: 4-38 v NZ, Napier, 2001/02
Collingwood faced a difficult four months of rehabilitation while players like Anthony McGrath and Ed Smith took what could have been his Test place.

But England remained heavily involved, with medical chief Peter Gregory, coach Duncan Fletcher and skipper Michael Vaughan all regularly on the phone.

He even spent time with the one-day squad that provided the brightest part of the summer with consecutive series victories over Pakistan and then Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Back at work he is confident and fully focussed.

He believes he has 95% mobility in his shoulder - his batting and bowling are back to normal but he still needs to regain the confidence to dive regularly.

"It's entirely up to me now to take it a step further and be part of an England Test side, and not just be happy with that but be the best player I can be," he says.

"I'm waiting to see what place I'll be able to go for, whether a batting spot or the all-rounder's spot.

"Andrew Flintoff's injury is a big blow for us but hopefully one of us can go in there and fill his shoes."

He laughs. He can afford to.

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