Haskell escapes Eduardo's fate in ankle crunch

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The Independent Online

England flanker James Haskell, who is battling to be fit for the Calcutta Cup match against Scotland at Murrayfield in 11 days' time, at first thought he had suffered a similar injury to that sustained by Arsenal's Croatian international Eduardo against Birmingham City.

Haskell injured his left ankle in a tackle with France hooker Dimitri Szarzewski in the 21st minute of England's Six Nations match in Paris.

The Wasps flanker said on his web-site: "I had all the weight on one foot, and the ankle got caught beneath me, and then the guy fell on top of me.

"My knee went one way, and my upper half went the other, so when I looked down, I thought I might have an injury like Eduardo, and that some bone might be sticking out of my sock."

But Haskell has not suffered a compound fracture of his left ankle, he underwent a scan yesterday [Tuesday] which revealed he has damaged the posterior capsule around the ankle joint.

It still means Haskell is definitely out of Wasps' crucial Premiership match at Newcastle on Friday night, but he is confident that he can make the Calcutta Cup match. "I won't be fit at the weekend for Wasps, but with the help of the England medical staff, and the Wasps' medical staff, I shall be back and in contention for selection [for England the week after]."

If Haskell is sidelined for a couple of weeks then his England place is likely to be taken by Leicester's Tom Croft, who replaced the Wasps back row forward at the Stade de France on Saturday night.

Haskell is the latest worry for England head coach Brian Ashton, who lost flankers Lewis Moody with an Achilles tendon problem, Tom Rees (knee injury), David Strettle (foot) and Mike Tindall (damaged liver) in the opening Six Nations match against Wales.

But Newcastle's Toby Flood, who played against France despite having suffered a back spasm in the warm-up, is expected to be fit for Friday's clash against Wasps.

The exodus at Ulster continues, with news that former Wallaby lock Justin Harrison is join Bath at the end of the season on a one-year contract.

Harrison, 33, is the second lock to sign up for the West Country club in the space of 24 hours, following head coach Steve Meehan's capture of Stuart Hooper from Leeds for next season. The double swoop is to compensate for the impending departure of England lock Steve Borthwick to Saracens.

But the Australian's departure leaves the Irish province in a state. They are braced to lose Neil Best and Roger Wilson to Northampton, while Tommy Bowe has signed for the Ospreys and Neil McMillan is bound for Harlequins.

On top of that former captain Simon Best was forced to retire earlier this week on medical grounds. At least one player is sticking with them, prop Justin Fitzpatrick, 34, has signed a two-year contract that will keep the former Ireland international at Ravenhill until 2010.

Back row forward Phil Murphy is to leave London Irish for an unnamed continental club at the end of the season. Murphy, 31, who won 19 caps with Canada between 2000 and 2004 joined the Exiles f4rom French club Perpignan in 2002.

Schalk Burger, a member of South Africa's 2007 Rugby World Cup winning team, has been banned for two matches after being found guilty of making an abusive gesture to a touch judge after being yellow carded on the recommendation of the official in the Super 14 match against the Sharks in Durban at the weekend.

Newcastle flanker Ben Woods, the England Saxons openside, has agreed a new one-year contract that will keep him at Kingston Park until 2009.

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