Double strife for Bath as Delve joins Borthwick on sidelines

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The Independent Online

Bath have suffered a second serious blow 24 hours after learning that they would be without their captain Steve Borthwick until December.

Yesterday it was revealed that Gareth Delve, Bath's Welsh international back-row forward, will almost certainly need a shoulder operation which is likely to sideline him also until December. Delve, 24, suffered a cracked left shoulder in last weekend's Premiership match at Northampton - and scans indicate that surgery will be necessary.

The news will also be a blow to Wales, since Delve will miss the autumn internationals, although he is expected to be fit in time for the start of the Six Nations in February.

"I think it's probably about 80 per cent likely that I will need an operation," Delve explained, "and it will take the autumn internationals out of the picture."

Borthwick's loss will also be felt by England. The 26-year-old is a top-class line-out specialist. He underwent surgery on his injured knee on Monday and has been ruled out of England's Tests against New Zealand, Argentina and the back-to-back Tests against South Africa in November.

London Irish have rescinded a decision to appeal against the severity of the punishment against their scrum-half Paul Hodgson.

Hodgson, 24, was banned for three weeks after being found guilty of a dangerous tackle on his former team-mate Paul Sackey, now with Wasps, a fortnight ago. He will not be able to play again until 10 October.

A £23m plan by Worcester to increase capacity at Sixways from the present 10,200 to 13,200 were given the thumbs-up yesterday by Wychavon District Council. The new North Stand will incorporate a health centre and racket club for public use.

Harlequins announced the signing of the Australian fly-half Craig McMullen as temporary cover for Andrew Mehrtens, who is out for six to eight weeks following a knee operation.

Andy Farrell is again named on the bench for Saracens' game against Sale in tonight's Premiership match at Edgeley Park.