England set to lose Vickery

The injury jinx that is threatening to completely derail England’s Six Nations campaign struck again on Thursday when captain Phil Vickery limped out of training with a calf problem.

Head coach Brian Ashton has already lost five first-choice players –centre Mike Tindall, prop Andrew Sheridan, wing David Strettle, plus flankers Lewis Moody and Tom Rees — and Vickery could be joining them on the sidelines.

The prop will travel to Rome on Friday ahead of England’s match with Italy on Sunday, but uncapped Bristol prop Jason Hobson will also be on the plane as cover.

If Vickery is forced to withdraw, then Bath’s Matt Stevens would most likely be promoted off the bench with Hobson joining the replacements. Vickery said he had suffered the injury during contact drills.

“I don’t want to sit here saying I’ve got a 50-50 chance because I haven’t got a clue,” he admitted. “We have got a travel day tomorrow, and I will be travelling to Rome.”

The match in Rome has become a must-win affair for Ashton following his side’s shock 26-19 defeat by Wales in their tournament opener at Twickenham.

Flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson or Bath lock Steve Borthwick are seen as the most likely stand-in captains should Vickery not make it.

Sapa-AFP – SixNationsweb.co.uk

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