England captain Michael Vaughan has flown home from the tour of India with doubts growing over his career longevity.

Vaughan, along with fast bowler and fellow knee-injury victim Simon Jones, will today receive expert advice from a Sheffield consultant.

The hope is the England captain will be able to ascertain the reason for the discomfort in the right knee on which he has already had three lots of surgery.

One of the suggestions put to Vaughan, by close friend Darren Gough, is to contact Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt - the German surgeon previously consulted by footballers Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard, athletes Paula Radcliffe and Maurice Greene among others.

Former England fast bowler Gough himself also consulted the German when a knee problem threatened to cut short his time at international level.

The latest of Vaughan's operations, which took place in December, was designed to rid the joint of the discomfort which hampered him during the Test portion of the tour of Pakistan.

Further surgery has not been discounted, although the England and Wales Cricket Board's chief medical officer Dr Peter Gregory said he feared for the 31-year-old if it was required so soon.

The surgeon treating Vaughan is confident his latest injury is not career-threatening. Derek Bicker-staff, a knee specialist at Sheffield's Thornbury Hospital, operated on the same knee in December.

When asked to comment on the speculation Vaughan's injury could jeopardise his career Bickerstaff said: "I personally would be very surprised if that was the case.

"From initial reports I have had from India there is nothing which particularly worries me that this is a career-threatening injury for him."

"This is probably the first time it has felt like a concern," admitted Vaughan.

"But I am very optimistic and enthusiastic about the game of cricket. I certainly won't feel it's the end of my career and I won't allow it to be.

"I will make sure I do as much as I can and get the right advice to come back.

"A lot better players than me have had years out of cricket and come back pretty well, hopefully I will be the same."

Australian greats Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath are two examples of players sidelined in the long term who performed at their peak upon return.

"I can't possibly set a date as to when I will play again but I want to try to get my career back as quickly as I can," Vaughan added. "I couldn't play to my full potential in Pakistan and I certainly couldn't allow that to happen on this trip."

Yet he baulks at suggestions this could be the natural juncture for retirement from the one-day international team. "I have no thoughts of it at all," he said. "I feel if I am fit enough to play cricket, at this stage of the progression of the team and with what is ahead of us, I will make myself available for both forms.

"The next year is important with the World Cup - I am sure a few decisions will be made by players after that - but one of my ambitions is to go the World Cup with England and do very well. We haven't done that for a long time."

Vaughan, faced with a ten-week window to recover from undergoing the knife, progressed satisfactorily until he put on his spikes and twisted the joint in the course of playing. Unlike the feeling in Pakistan, which was inside the joint, this pain has been outside.

"I had to come on the tour and do all the work in that first week if I was to play here," he reflected.

"I wouldn't have had it any other way. I knew for the last week I was struggling, doing the basics in the nets was okay but every time I got on the back foot to play an attacking shot or sprint off for a run there has been a lot of discomfort and in the field it has been a problem when I have moved sharply to the right.

"I had a cortisone injection last Wednesday in the hope it would give me a chance of playing on the trip. Unfortunately it hasn't worked."

Vaughan's departure from India, along with Jones, completed a disastrous few days for England who lost vice-captain Marcus Trescothick from the tour at the weekend for personal reasons.

The leadership baton was passed to Andrew Flintoff less than 48 hours before the first Test, which begins this morning.

"It has been a bizarre week," Vaughan said. "We don't want too many weeks like this in the England team but we have to try to produce an unbelievable performance in the circumstances we have been dealt.

"I am sure Fred will be all right, it is an unfortunate circumstance I have left him in

but there are some good, young talented players there for him to work with and he's a good cricketer with a good cricket brain so I don't think he will struggle.

"He should just do it his way: the best way he feels will get the best out of his team.

"He was the obvious candidate, how he will cope with it I am not too sure but I know he will play his cricket wholeheartedly.

"He has had a phenomenal year playing an incredible game and and you probably wouldn't want him to have it at a time like now.

"But the circumstances mean there is an opportunity to test the captaincy and see

whether he likes it or not."

One piece of good news is that Kevin Pietersen is "100% fit" according to Fletcher, following a back injury. The major concern over Pietersen was the effect of sweeping in a match expected to contain plenty of action for the spinners.

With little grass on the pitch, the ball is expected to turn early and with that in mind England are considering ditching their usual four-pronged pace attack.

"We have got to look at that option, we will discuss it and at this stage there is a very good chance two spin-ners will be playing in our side," Fletcher confirmed. ..SUPL: