Rugby Union: Catt set for quick recall

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The Independent Online
JUST WHEN Clive Woodward was in serious danger of naming an unchanged England side - a course he has taken only once during his 18 months as national coach - Paul Grayson has prompted a hasty reappraisal by limping on to a long-term casualty list already featuring the names of Will Greenwood, Phil de Glanville and Phil Vickery. The Northampton outside-half is suffering from a stress fracture of the pelvis and is unlikely play again before the middle of May.

Grayson's withdrawal from the side to face France at Twickenham on Saturday almost certainly means a recall for the much-maligned Mike Catt, who demonstrated a keen sense of timing by bagging 20 points for Bath at Richmond at the weekend. Woodward could set his personal time machine in fast forward by giving the No 10 shirt to Jonny Wilkinson, his ultimate solution to England's stand-off predicament, but the injuries to Greenwood and De Glanville are likely to cement the Newcastle teenager in his current position of inside centre.

"I came back from the Five Nations match in Ireland thinking I'd picked up a groin strain, but when I tried to run after two or three days of intensive physiotherapy, there was nothing doing," said Grayson. "I had the injury scanned and the specialist gave me the bad news. It's a six- week job, for sure, which is bitterly disappointing. I'm a non-starter for the rest of the championship."

England's midfield triangle is the one area of real concern for Woodward as he pursues a Grand Slam that would send England into this autumn's World Cup in better than expected shape.

Notwithstanding Grayson's setback, the most intractable problems surround Greenwood, who appears to be suffering from precisely the kind of deep- seated groin condition that once cost Jeremy Guscott an entire season of top-flight rugby.