England will learn lessons – Vickery

World Cup warrior Phil Vickery will return to the Test arena on Saturday in a wounded England squad almost battered into submission by their growing army of critics. [more]

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World Cup warrior Phil Vickery will return to the Test arena on Saturday in a wounded England squad almost battered into submission by their growing army of critics.

Vickery’s appearance on the bench against South Africa at Twickenham arrives almost a year to the day since he last wore an England shirt.

The 30-year-old former England skipper has overcome more major back problems during an injury-hit career which sees his 47 caps span almost a nine-year period.

And his experience in just being around the training camp this week has provided a reassuring presence for under-fire head coach Andy Robinson as England strive to avoid suffering a record eighth successive defeat.

England’s shambolic 25-18 loss against Argentina five days ago turned the heat up on Robinson to an almost unbearable level, although victories in back-to-back appointments with South Africa should help keep the wolves at bay.

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"I was as disappointed as anyone after watching the game last weekend," said the Wasps prop, whose England recall means he misses a Guinness Premiership return to his former club Gloucester on Saturday.

"There has been a lot of soul-searching going on, and there have been some pretty honest conversations taking place.

"The preparation and the intensity has been there, and rightly so, because last weekend was hugely disappointing for everyone.

"It’s all very well losing, but if you don’t deal with it, try to improve and learn the lessons, then there is not a lot of point in being here."

Vickery is among the candidates to captain England next week, given that current leader Martin Corry will not be available because of an agreement with Premier Rugby stipulating no player can start all four autumn Tests.

But while speculation points to another ex-England skipper Lawrence Dallaglio already being lined up for the job, Vickery still has an important role ahead.

He added: "If I felt I couldn’t do it or play a role here, then I wouldn’t be here because it would not be fair on myself, my club Wasps or England.

"Regardless of what you think of yourself as a player or as a group, we’ve come in for some big criticism, and rightly so.

"If things are not going very well and no-one is trying to do anything about it, then you have got to worry, but the nice thing is that everyone is working so hard – coaches, players, everyone – and the endeavour is there to turn this around."

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