England to field fledgling side - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

England to field fledgling side

By Julian Guyer 04/11/2009 03:34:20 PM Comments (0)

England manager Martin Johnson takes no comfort from the Wallabies' dismal record in 2009 as he prepares to field an exceptionally raw team against the tourists on Saturday.

The make-up of injury-hit England's team for the Twickenham Test became clearer as Johnson released 10 players back to their clubs, retaining just a bare 22, but delayed naming his starting team for another day.

Although the experienced trio of 2003 World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson, Lewis Moody and captain Steve Borthwick are among the players retained, the average number of caps per man is 18 and several possible starters for Saturday's Cook Cup clash at Twickenham have yet to get out of single figures.

"Hopefully these injuries are an exceptional period," Johnson said.

"We're not talking about excuses. Coaches are used to injury. Maybe not this many - of course not - but that's where we are. We're getting ready to play."

Australia have lost six of their last seven Tests - all against South Africa and New Zealand, including last weekend's Bledisloe Cup defeat by the All Blacks in Tokyo.

But Johnson said: "We've got no doubt as to the severity of the test we'll face at the weekend.

"They play the top two teams in the world (South Africa and New Zealand) a lot. It's going to be harder to get wins.

"There's no way we're going to read anything into those losses."

Injuries have left England without nearly two teams' worth of players, including a first-choice front-row, and Johnson delayed the team announcement to give New Zealand-born hooker Dylan Hartley more time to recover from a hamstring problem.

But the likely side became clearer when utility backs Ben Foden and Mathew Tait were among those released.

That indicated Ugo Monye, Matt Banahan and Mark Cueto will form the back three against the Wallabies, with Dan Hipkiss in a midfield set to be without Mike Tindall because of a hamstring injury.

A desire to avoid having unfamiliar combinations may well lead Johnson to field an all-Leicester back-row and the same tight five that played against Argentina in June.

As for the locks, Louis Deacon appears likely to partner Borthwick with Northampton's uncapped Courtney Lawes on the bench.

Possible England team to play Australia: Ugo Monye; Matt Banahan, Dan Hipkiss, Shane Geraghty, Mark Cueto; Jonny Wilkinson, Danny Care; Jordan Crane, Lewis Moody, Tom Croft; Louis Deacon, Steve Borthwick (capt); David Wilson, Dylan Hartley, Tim Payne. Res: Steve Thompson, Duncan Bell, Courtney Lawes, James Haskell, Paul Hodgson, Andy Goode, Ayoola Erinle.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news