DateLine: 18th October 2006
Injured England captain Michael Vaughan has played down his chances of making a comeback in the Ashes tour which starts Down Under later this year.
With the fifth and final Test against Australia in Sydney ending on January 6, Vaughan is almost certainly not going to have any impact in the Ashes battle as he said he was unlikely to make a competitive return before the New Year.
The injured England captain has not featured at international level since the early part of the tour to India last March and a further operation on his left knee earlier this summer appeared to have ruled him out of the Ashes defence.
After months of hard work during his rehabilitation, however, optimism was raised that Vaughan could possibly return for one of the final two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney over Christmas and New Year.
But Vaughan has confirmed he does not expect to play a competitive game before the start of December, leaving him facing a more realistic comeback during the one-day series starting in January.
"Playing in the Test matches is a long-shot, it's a dream," admitted Vaughan. "If everything went incredibly well and I had a huge amount of luck maybe I'd have an opportunity to be available for selection for the last two Tests. But you've also got to respect the guys in the team. I don't have any given right to walk straight back into the England cricket team. I've got to make sure the knee's good to enough to play cricket and I've got to be in good enough form for the team to allow me back in. I've got so much to do in the rehab over the next six weeks to even allow me to get on a plane to go out to Australia so all this talk of me playing any kind of game is far too soon."
Vaughan, who was speaking at the announcement that Hugo Boss was to become an official partner of the England cricket team in London, expects his first match to be for the Academy based in Perth some time in December. Until he tests his knee properly by twisting and turning in the middle he remains uncertain if and when he will be able to make his England comeback.
"I have to get through that stage of playing normal cricket again and only then will I be able to ring David Graveney or Duncan Fletcher and tell them I'm available for selection again," he added. "Since I've had the operation and I've been out for a long time, I've found it difficult to watch the game, but I've been watching this ICC Champions Trophy tournament because I know I'm nearing the time when I may be able to play cricket again. When you know you're not going to play for a while and that's taken away from you, it gets quite difficult to watch."
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