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Cipriani set to miss England opener

By Julian Guyer 03/02/2009 07:45:45 AM Comments (0)

Fly-half Danny Cipriani looks set to miss England's Six Nations opener at home to Italy on Saturday after being named in the team for Friday's match between England Saxons and Ireland "A" at Donnybrook in Dublin.

The gifted but inconsistent 21-year-old outside-half played the first three of England's November internationals only a month after returning to action following the right ankle fracture/dislocation he suffered in May.

But, perhaps understandably given his long lay-off, he wasn't at his best and he suffered from seeing charged-down kicks lead to opposition tries.

Toby Flood, who replaced Cipriani for England's most recent international, against New Zealand, has been struggling with a calf strain but he is now expected to start at Twickenham this weekend.

However on January 15 England manager Martin Johnson asked experienced Brive stand-off Andy Goode, Flood's Leicester predecessor and a player renowned for the quality of his kicking game, to train with the England squad at their warm-weather camp in Portugal.

Goode was formally added to England's Six Nations squad Monday while Gloucester's James Simpson-Daniel was called up as cover for Harlequins wing Ugo Monye (sore back) and Saracens front-row Tom Mercey added as back-up for Wasps's Tim Payne (abdominal muscles).

Cipriani, capped seven times by England, and Leicester scrum-half Harry Ellis are among eight capped players named in the Saxons', as the national "A" side is now known, squad.

"Harry and Danny will spend this week with the Saxons as they prepare to play Ireland A on Friday," said Johnson.

"Both players remain in my plans for the Six Nations but I'd like to see them get some game time with the Saxons," England's 2003 World Cup-winning captain added.

Johnson is due to name his 22 to play Italy, for what will be his first Six Nations match as manager, on Tuesday.

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