Michael Vaughan fears that he may never play cricket again, after undergoing a fourth operation on his right knee. His comments come just days after announcing the possibility of him returning for the one-day internationals in Australia that follow the Ashes early next year.
However, Vaughan emphasised that his battle with injury worries isn't over, and that he would strive even harder to return. His determination could have also been fuelled by Australian captain Ricky Ponting's recent comments, where he refused to believe that Vaughan would miss the entire Ashes tour.
"I have real hope I'll get better", Vaughan told the Mail On Sunday. "I'll do all the hard work and I believe there'll be another day when Michael Vaughan takes the field in an England cricket shirt. But I have to be realistic. I've read I might never play cricket again, and that might well turn out to be the case.
"There are no guarantees. I know that better than anyone.There is an area of the knee that's very worn - and there was a split in the cartilage. They tell me the operation has been successful but they'll only know for certain after rehabilitation."
On his prospects for the Ashes series starting in November, Vaughan said he would have a better idea once he resumes training, which has been scheduled for mid-September. Should he miss the entire tour of Australia, his next target would be the World Cup in the West Indies starting in March 2007.
"I have another three weeks on crutches and then, around September 22, 12 weeks after the operation. I'll try to start a little light running," he told the paper. "If all goes well, my aim is to be playing some kind of cricket in late December or early January.
"Is there any chance I might be ready for Melbourne or Sydney? Probably not, but I'm going to hang on to that dream."