Guscott on recovery route after 10-month lay-off

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The Independent Online

Jeremy Guscott yesterday delivered an optimistic fitness bulletin about his prospects of returning to Premiership action with Bath this season.

Jeremy Guscott yesterday delivered an optimistic fitness bulletin about his prospects of returning to Premiership action with Bath this season.

Guscott has been out for almost 10 months since his final Test try took England past 100 points against their hapless World Cup opponents Tonga at Twickenham.

He announced his retirement from international rugby the following week, then underwent surgery on a serious groin complaint that has required a lengthy spell of rehabilitation. But Guscott, who recently celebrated his 35th birthday, is hopeful that he can mark his forthcoming testimonial season by once again running out at the Recreation Ground some 16 years after making his Bath debut.

Guscott hopes to play some part in a pre-season practice match against Edinburgh Reivers next Friday, after which he should have a clearer idea about his chances. "I have been back training for three weeks with the Bath squad, and a few weeks before then on my own. I am taking the training as it comes," Guscott said. "I have only had one contact session, but reaction to the groin from that was positive.

"I am feeling okay, physically and mentally. The worry for me is the mental side of not having played for almost a year - the game has moved on, even in that time, and seems a lot more physical now."

Bath have appointed the England forward Ben Clarke as their captain for the new season. Clarke, in his second spell with the club following a stint at Richmond, will lead the club into Premiership action against Sale on 19 August.

The new head coach Jon Callard said it had been a straightforward decision to award Clarke the Recreation Ground's senior playing role. Clarke, who had an outstanding tour with England in South Africa this summer before injury struck, described his appointment as "a huge honour."

He said: "I never thought I would have the opportunity to captain Bath once I'd left, and I am looking forward to the task. I have still got a lot of ambition in rugby. Last season was frustrating for me as I picked up a lot of injuries, but I am looking forward to playing all the games this time."

Sale remain confident they can secure the signature of the Scotland international scrum-half Bryan Redpath from Narbonne.

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