Vaughan out, Anderson heads home

England's key injury worries have not improved with Michael Vaughan missing Friday's one-day game against Australia and James Anderson flying home with a back complaint. Anderson, the opening bowler, will join Kevin Pietersen in England even though an ECB spokesman said he was "pain-free at the moment".

After a below-par Test series, Anderson improved during England's opening four one-day games, taking eight wickets at 20.62, but he missed the past two fixtures with the back problem. Anderson will return home in the next two days and will be set a fitness program in a bid to be fit for the tournament in the Caribbean starting in March.

He said that the decision was taken firmly with the World Cup in mind. "It is a precautionary measure to ensure that I'm fit for the entire tournament. If I'm honest I don't really feel any pain at the moment and if it were the World Cup final tomorrow, I'd definitely play.

"It is quite nice to be in a position where the management are confident enough in my bowling to take this precaution rather than risk any injury," he added. "It means I'm bowling well, and it is quite reassuring to know that I'm in their key plans for the World Cup. I've felt that I've been bowling well in this one-day series, and it's good to know they think so too."

A day after Paul Nixon said Vaughan was unlikely to play in the series he has been scratched for the fifth game in a row with a hamstring strain. "He is currently on day two of a three-day intensive training program and once he gets through that we'll have a better idea of where he is," a spokesman said. "But the goal is for him to play on Tuesday."

England's final preliminary game is against New Zealand at the Gabba on Tuesday, but they must win both of their last two matches to qualify for the deciders. Jon Lewis, the bowler suffering an Achilles injury, trained with the squad in Sydney today and will have a fitness test on Friday.