Vickery blow for England
Wasps prop Phil Vickery will miss England's autumn Tests after being ruled out for three months with a neck injury.
Last Updated: 20/10/09 2:05pm
England have suffered a second major blow at prop in the last 24 hours after Wasps announced that Phil Vickery will be out for at least three months as he recovers from pending neck surgery.
The news is another setback for Martin Johnson, with World Cup winner Vickery joining Andrew Sheridan on the sidelines for England's autumn internationals.
Vickery's club Wasps say he faces a rehabilitation period "in excess of three months".
It will prevent him from playing in games against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand at Twickenham next month, and will also make him a serious doubt for this season's RBS Six Nations Championship.
Vickery's injury comes hot on the heels of that suffered by fellow England prop Sheridan, who was ruled out for as long as four months following a shoulder dislocation.
A Wasps statement read: "Due to an exacerbation of neck pain suffered during the Wasps versus Racing-Metro game at Adams Park (on October 11), Phil Vickery has been closely monitored over the last week by the club's medical team.
"It was deemed necessary that Phil should be reviewed further by a consultant neurosurgeon.
"Subsequently a collective decision by Phil, the consultant, Wasps' medical team and England has been made this week to progress with surgery to his neck.
"This will entail a rehab period in excess of three months."
Vickery has suffered from neck and back injuries earlier in his career and the 33-year-old now faces another big challenge to come back from his latest problem.
Vickery has played 73 times for England, five Tests for the British and Irish Lions, and captained his country in the World Cup in France two years ago.
Johnson now has just three fit props in his elite squad in Tim Payne, Julian White and David Wilson, while England Saxons duo Matt Mullan and Dan Cole are also injured.
Johnson will name a revised elite squad next Monday, with players from the Saxons most likely stepping up - including Gloucester loosehead Nick Wood and Saracens prospect Tom Mercey.
England have suffered a host of injury blows recently, with full-back Delon Armitage, centre Riki Flutey, hooker Lee Mears and flanker Tom Rees all being ruled out of next month's Tests.
Australia are the first visitors to Twickenham on November 7, before Argentina arrive seven days later followed by a Test against the All Blacks.