England facing crisis for Wallabies Test - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

England facing crisis for Wallabies Test

By Julian Guyer 21/10/2009 04:45:11 PM Comments (0)

Australia's revamped front row have been boosted with news they'll face an England pack decimated by injuries when they begin their grand slam quest at Twickenham on November 7.

England will be without their entire formidable first-choice front row after former captain Phil Vickery became the latest ruled out because of a neck injury.

Vickery is to undergo neck surgery and will be sidelined for at least three months.

The announcement came less than 24 hours after it was revealed giant prop Andrew Sheridan will be out of action for at least four months with a dislocated shoulder.

With hooker Lee Mears already ruled out because of knee ligament damage, England manager Martin Johnson must contemplate a complete revamp of what was an all British and Irish Lions front row.

Sheridan and Vickery have given the Wallabies plenty of problems in the past and their absence should make the task slightly less daunting for new tighthead Ben Alexander when he packs down alongside fellow prop Benn Robinson and either Stephen Moore or Tatafu Polota-Nau at Twickenham.

But Vickery's injury is just the latest setback to Johnson's plans.

England's 2003 World Cup-winning captain now knows he will definitely be without 12 players next month because of injury, with fullback Delon Armitage, centre Riki Flutey and flanker Tom Rees among the casualty list.

The rash of injuries has left Johnson with just three fit props - Tim Payne, Julian White and David Wilson - in his current squad and he's due to reveal how he will plug the gaps on Monday, when he is scheduled to announce a revised elite squad.

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 appearances for the Lions, faces another gruelling quest to regain full fitness.

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