Forrester cleared of striking opponent with knee

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Gloucester and England last night breathed a joint sigh of relief when James Forrester was found not guilty of striking an opponent with a knee at a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing.

It means the No 8, who has been named in the Saxons squad ­ the second-string England team ­ for the forthcoming international season, is free to carry on playing.

There had been fears that Forrester, 25, might have been banned following a collision with David Blair which resulted in the Sale fly-half suffering a fracture of two small bones in his back which will keep him out for six to eight weeks.

Paul Sackey, widely expected to start England's opening Six Nations match against Scotland next month, is doubtful for Wasps' crucial Heineken Cup match at Castres on Saturday. Sackey has scored 11 tries for Wasps this season, including five in the European Cup, but yesterday the club admitted he has picked up a leg injury.

While Wasps are not prepared to write off Sackey's chances of playing in Castres, details about the injury were scant and there is an underlying feeling that it is fairly serious.

The Ireland coach, Eddie O'Sullivan, included two new faces in his 35-man squad for the Six Nations announced yesterday ­ the Munster centre Barry Murphy and the Leinster back Robert Kearney. In addition, O'Sullivan has been able to recall the hooker Jerry Flannery and the second-rowers Mick O'Driscoll and Trevor Hogan.

The uncapped centre Romain Cabannes could miss France's first three Six Nations matches after suffering a fractured sinus in an accidental clash during Biarritz's Heineken Cup match against Parma last weekend. He could be out for up to eight weeks.

Sale's injury hoodoo continues unabated. The latest victim is scrum-half Sililo Martens, who is out for the rest of the season. The 29-year-old dislocated a shoulder twice against Gloucester and is expected to be out of action for up to five months. Sale had just learned that Nathan Bonner-Evans needs knee reconstruction surgery which will keep him out for the rest of the season.