Injuries thwart Larder

Rugby League
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The Independent Online
A glut of weekend injuries has forced the England coach, Phil Larder, to delay the selection of the side to face France at Gates- head tomorrow night.

England's new captain, Andy Farrell, heads the list of doubtful starters after limping out of Wigan's draw with the London Broncos, suffering from a thigh injury. He hopes to be fit, along with his team-mates Jason Rob- inson and Gary Connolly, who injured an ankle and a knee respectively in the same match. Should Farrell not make it, Shaun Edwards will take over as captain less than a month after being left out of the squad.

Daryl Powell, earmarked for the stand-off role, suffered a dead-leg in Keighley's win at Widnes, but he, too, hopes to play. Rather less optimistic are Halifax's highly experienced Test prop Karl Harrison and Wigan's forward Mick Cassidy.

Harrison has damaged a hamstring and Cassidy has had to go for an X-ray on a suspected broken rib, so both are regarded as extremely doubtful.

Larder has already lost from his squad his first-choice scrum-half, Bobbie Goulding, and the Wigan full-back, Kris Radlinski. Leeds' promising back- rower Adrian Morley has been put on standby for any vacancies among the forwards, and there are indications that the St Helens full-back, Steve Pres- cott, and Paul Sculthorpe, of Warrington, will make their England debuts.

Larder said: "I can't announce the team at the moment because we've got too many question marks involving injuries." He said training would be disrupted because of the injuries, and then quipped: "It will be more like an egg and spoon and sack race.

"It is certainly not going to be what we expected. There are obviously difficulties in trying to prepare a team for a midweek fixture. Super League is so intense at the moment and it has been a long season for many of the players."

France will also name their side today but if there is one consolation for Larder, it is that the players from whom it will be selected are so wearied by the competing demands of the national side, Paris St-Germain and their French domestic clubs that even a weakened England side can be expected to have its measure.

Wakefield Trinity have again signed the former Great Britain Under-21 winger Daio Powell, who has been cleared of a manslaughter charge in Australia.

The League's board of directors will today discuss South Wales' application for elevation into Super League next season.

The board is expected to approve the fast-tracking of a side based at the Cardiff Arms Park, although the final decision will be made by the Rugby League Council next month.