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Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

England prop Phil Vickery set to miss Six Nations

Phil Vickery
Vickery has made 73 appearances for England

England prop Phil Vickery looks likely to miss the Six Nations tournament after taking longer than expected to recover from neck surgery.

The 33-year-old underwent an operation on his neck in November, forcing him out of England's autumn internationals.

Vickery was originally expected to face a three-month rehabilitation period, but Wasps now say he will not resume training for at least eight weeks.

England begin their Six Nations campaign against Wales on 6 February.

Although Wasps insist that Vickery is "recovering well" from the surgery, the fact that he cannot start training for a minimum of eight weeks makes him highly unlikely to be part of England boss Martin Johnson's thinking when he names his new Elite Player Squad for the tournament on 13 January.

England's front-row resources were severely stretched during the autumn Tests, with Bath's David Wilson and Duncan Bell and Wasps' Tim Payne filling in for the absent Vickery and Andrew Sheridan, while the inexperienced Paul Doran-Jones was called on to cover the bench.

And with Sheridan not expected to be back in action until late February after undergoing surgery on the dislocated shoulder he suffered playing for Sale in October, Johnson will have to weigh up the merits of the other props at his disposal.

Wasps were able to offer Johnson some better news on the injury front though, with experienced flanker Joe Worsley set to return to full training early next month after suffering a knee ligament problem.

Flanker Tom Rees, who has suffered wretched luck with injuries, is also closing in on a return from a prolonged spell on the sidelines after shoulder surgery.

Rees should return to training in a minimum of six weeks but the club appear to have ruled out any rapid return to the England ranks, pointing out that his "primary goal is to return to play for London Wasps".

Meanwhile young scrum-half Joe Simpson, whose superb recent form had seen him earmarked as a possible contender for Johnson's squad, faces three months out of the game.

The 21-year-old dislocated his left shoulder in Wasps' game against Harlequins at Twickenham on 27 December and has subsequently undergone surgery.

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see also
Worsley faces eight-week absence
26 Nov 09 |  English
Vickery undergoes neck operation
06 Nov 09 |  London Wasps
Sheridan faces Six Nations race
19 Oct 09 |  English
Vickery joins England casualties
20 Oct 09 |  English
Cipriani & Rees blow for England
09 Oct 09 |  English

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