England pair will miss France game

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The Independent Online

Kevin Brown and Shaun Lunt are to remain with the England squad for Saturday's game against France, after two first choice players were ruled out by injury.

The Leeds stand-off, Danny McGuire, was withdrawn following a scan on a knee injury. As expected, the St Helens scrum-half, Kyle Eastmond, is also out with ankle ligament damage.

"It's unfortunate that Danny and Kyle have injuries that will keep them out, but their misfortune is good fortunes for two other players I'm looking forward to working with," said the England coach, Steve McNamara.

Brown, the Huddersfield stand-off, is a direct replacement for McGuire and is likely to start the match at Leigh. His team-mate, Lunt, is in contention for the hooking duties with Saints' James Roby and Kevin Sinfield of Leeds, who was passed fit yesterday after a scan on his knee injury.

The one remaining member of the squad, Sam Burgess, arrives from Australia today and McNamara will name his side tomorrow.

Hull's 21-year-old hooker, Danny Houghton, has been given a new two-year deal to keep him at the club until the end of 2012. "Danny is a terrific young professional who has been performing well," said the Hull coach, Richard Agar.

The Harlequins coach, Brian McDermott, has praised Olsi Krasniqi, the 17-year-old prop who made his first-team debut in the victory over Crusaders on Sunday. "Olsi has done really well," he said. "Super League is a big step up for our London juniors. Three and a half years ago, he wasn't even playing rugby league."

Featherstone have signed loose forward Lee Patterson who has returned from playing in France with Carpentras.