Vaughan out of Ashes

Michael Vaughan is likely to be out of this year's Ashes as he will undergo surgery for the fourth time on his right knee on Monday.

Vaughan has been ruled out for four to six months, which means that his participation in the forthcoming series in Australia this winter is highly unlikely. The first Ashes Test is in Brisbane on November 23, although he might be fit for the one-day series starting on January 12, 2007.

Dr Peter Gregory, the England team's chief medical officer, said in a statement: "Michael worked extremely hard with the support of the Yorkshire medical staff to strengthen the knee to the point where he was able to begin playing again. However, he has still been experiencing some discomfort in the knee and further surgery is necessary if he is to regain the level of fitness required for international cricket."

His progress will be closely monitored.

That's just the latest blow to hit an injury-ravaged England side, who are currently without the core of their first-choice players, including Andrew Flintoff, Simon Jones and Ashley Giles. Vaughan's captaincy was held up as a key factor in England winning back the Ashes after 16 years without them, when they regained the urn in September last year.

But Vaughan has been unable to lead England on from their moment of glory because of a return of his knee problems. Marcus Trescothick stood in for the first Test in Pakistan, and the seriousness of the issue really became clear in India, when he was forced home. He handed the captaincy over to Andrew Flintoff and also missed the start of 2006 season.