Sheridan is battling to play again this season and could face surgery, potentially missing out on Sharks’ push for Guinness Premiership title honours, the remainder of the Heineken Cup, plus an England summer tour of Australia.
The injury happened during England training before their RBS 6 Nations Championship finale against Ireland a fortnight ago, a game that Sheridan started before he was replaced by Perry Freshwater 11 minutes from time.
And Sale are fuming the full extent of Sheridan’s problem was not identified at the time, claiming England’s medical team failed to correctly identify an injury he then aggravated when Ireland triumphed 28-24 at Twickenham.
“I felt pain in my neck after training on the Wednesday, but the England medical team felt I would be okay to play against Ireland,” said Sheridan, who sits out tomorrow afternoon’s Heineken Cup quarter-final appointment with Biarritz in San Sebastian.
“When I returned to Sale Sharks, they immediately sent me for a scan, which showed a prolapsed disc in my neck.
“I have been told to rest for four to six weeks, after which time I will be re-scanned. It is only at that point I will know whether I can return to playing or if I will need surgery.”
Sheridan, a mainstay of the England side this season, is a key figure in coach Andy Robinson’s 2007 World Cup plans.
“This is devastating news for ‘Sherri’ as he is desperate to play his part in our push for honours as the season draws to a close,” said Sharks rugby director Philippe Saint-Andre.
“We are 100% behind him and very much hope the rest will allow the injury to heal naturally so he can return for the final few games of the season.
“It is very disappointing that the injury was not scanned at the time it happened when he was training with England, as if he had not played against Ireland, the damage may not have been so bad.
“My medical team tell me that he simply shouldn’t have played against the Irish.
“However, he is back at Sale now and we will ensure he receives the best possible medical support. If he needs surgery, we will not risk playing him, however great our need.”
: N Brusque, J-Baptiste Gobelet, P Bidabe, D Traille, S Bobo, J Peyrelongue, D Yachvili; P Vladimir Balan, B August , B Lecouls, J Thion, O Olibeau, S Betsen, T Dusautoir , T Lievremont.
: C Johnson, S Ormaechea, D Couzinet, I Harinordoquy, J Dupuy, F Martin Arramburu, B Dambielle.
: D Larrechea, M Cueto, M Taylor, E Seveali’i, J Robinson (capt), C Hodgson, S Martens; B Coutts, S Bruno, S Turner, I Fernandez Lobbe, D Schofield, J White, M Lund, C Jones Replacements: A Titterrell, B Stewart, E Lewis Roberts, N Bonner Evans, C Day, S Hanley, V Courrent.