Injured Balshaw likely to miss Wales game

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The Independent Online

Iain Balshaw is struggling to be fit for England's Six Nations' match against Wales at Twickenham next week. The Bath full-back suffered a groin injury during club training yesterday, and will have a scan tomorrow.

Iain Balshaw is struggling to be fit for England's Six Nations' match against Wales at Twickenham next week. The Bath full-back suffered a groin injury during club training yesterday, and will have a scan tomorrow.

Balshaw won his 22nd cap during the 19-13 defeat against Ireland last weekend, when another below-par performance left him battling to retain the No 15 jersey.

Clive Woodward is expected to name his squad today. Either Josh Lewsey or Jason Robinson would appear to be better bets than Balshaw in the full-back position on current form, but any selection decision might now have already been made for the England coach.

Balshaw was to run out for Bath in Saturday's Premiership match against London Irish at the Recreation Ground, but that is looking unlikely. "Iain has hurt his groin," said the Bath coach John Connolly. "He would have played on Saturday, but could now be sidelined for seven to 10 days."

France's belief in versatility was underlined yesterday when they replaced their injured scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde with a fly-half in their squad for the Six Nations' match against Scotland at Murrayfield next Sunday.

Elissalde, the find of the tournament following the retirement of the World Cup captain Fabien Galthié, is expected to be out for six week after tearing a right thigh muscle.

Elissalde scored 24 points, including a try, in the 29-22 win over Wales on Sunday but the coach Bernard Laporte decided against a like-for-like replacement, instead calling up Julien Peyrelongue, the Biarritz Olympique No 10.

"It's tough for Elissalde. He played three good games for us. I hope he'll be back quickly. We've gone for Peyrelongue, who's a specialist No 10," said Laporte. "This is very hard for Elissalde and for us. He has performed extremely well in his first three matches. We hope he will be back on track soon."

Dimitri Yachvili appeared the logical replacement for him after his performances at the World Cup in Australia last year. He is likely to start at the base of the scrum, with first-choice fly-half Fréderic Michalak, who has played club rugby in the No 9 shirt, offering cover.

"Versatility counts for a lot," said Laporte. "It helps and means we've got cover in all positions."

* Bath's England international forward Steve Borthwick has pledged his immediate future to the club by signing a two-year deal. The 24-year-old, who won his ninth cap against Ireland, was named October's Zurich Player of the Month and has played over 150 games for Bath. "The club has progressed significantly since the start of the season and my game is also advancing a lot," he said.

FRANCE SIX NATIONS' SQUAD

(v Scotland, Murrayfield, Sunday 21 March): Backs - D Yachvili (Biarritz), F Michalak (Toulouse), J Peyrelongue (Biarritz), Y Jauzion (Toulouse), C Poitrenaud (Toulouse), D Traille (Pau), V Clerc (Toulouse), C Dominici (Stade Français), N Brusque (Biarritz), P Elhorga (Agen).

Forwards - J Crenca (Agen), P De Villiers (Stade Français), S Marconnet (Stade Français), Y Bru (Toulouse), W Servat (Toulouse), D Auradou (Stade Français), P Papé (Bourgoin-Jallieu), F Pelous (Toulouse, capt), S Betsen (Biarritz), I Haridornoquy (Pau), T Lièvremont (Biarritz), O Magne (Montferrand).

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