Rugby Union: Clarke faces test on injured arm: England No 8 needs rapid recovery to face Irish

Click to follow
ALREADY deprived by injury of Dean Richards, England now face the loss of a second No 8 with Ben Clarke needing a rapid recovery from his arm injury if he is to be fit to face the Irish at Twickenham on Saturday, writes Steve Bale.

The injury is a legacy of England's last-kick win at Murrayfield 10 days ago, when Clarke was caught beneath his Bath club-mate, Andy Reed, the Caledonian from Bodmin. 'It could have been worse,' Clarke said yesterday. 'I was hurt when I had 17 stones of Cornishman falling on me. I got by without it being more serious because of the soft ground.'

Clarke's troubles were ignored by the selectors when they announced their team on Sunday even though he had failed to complete that training session and did not play for Bath the previous day. He has already had fluid drained twice and will do so for a third time before testing his fitness when the team meet tomorrow.

'I'm hoping for the best when the fluid is drained off,' he said. 'At the moment I'm having physio and ice treatment. I should be OK but I couldn't guarantee playing if the match had been today.' Clarke played at open-side flanker in the defeat of New Zealand in November but reverted to his usual position against the Scots when Richards became unavailable.

If Clarke withdrew, the likely consequence would be the switch of Tim Rodber - himself only just recovered from a torn hamstring - from blind side to No 8 and the recall of John Hall, who has been dropped to accommodate Rodber.