Rugby Union: Bradley is given time

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Ireland's captain, Michael Bradley, was yesterday given another day in which to decide whether he wants to face England in Saturday's international at Lansdowne Road after the death of his baby son last week.

The delicacy of the situation is such that the scrum-half is being given every consideration. Should he withdraw, the alternative is less straightforward than simply promoting Niall Hogan from the bench, since David O'Mahony, the Irish scrum-half for Friday's A match against England at Donnybrook, is considered next in line.

Meanwhile, Martin Johnson's strained hamstring has responded to treatment so well that yesterday he regarded his chances of playing as "very promising". As Simon Shaw, the lock who is on stand-by, will be travelling to Dublin anyway for the A game, Johnson could if necessary be given until Friday to prove his fitness.

Mark Mapletoft, hurt during last Saturday's match at West Hartlepool, is almost certain to miss Friday's game, with Andy Tunningley, full-back with the Second Division leaders, Saracens, likely to take his place.

Five Nations focus, page 39