Injuries force Robinson to rethink forward planning

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The Independent Online

There may yet be further developments. For starters, two-thirds of the front-line contenders to face Australia must negotiate a round of Heineken Cup rugby this weekend, and Robinson is all too aware of the potential for further lacerations, abrasions and orthopaedic calamities. Secondly, there is the question of form, or lack of it - something highly relevant to Mark van Gisbergen of Wasps.

Van Gisbergen endured a rough night at Sale a couple of Fridays back and did not exactly cover himself in glory as Wasps contrived to lose an important Heineken match at Edinburgh last weekend. Should he find himself on the wrong end of the slings and arrows against Toulouse on Sunday - and it is fairly easy to look hopeless against a side as good as the European champions - his confidence will be shot to pieces.

Robinson, who still plans to give Van Gisbergen a first cap on 12 November, did not say as much yesterday, but the sudden promotion of Olly Barkley, the goal-kicking centre from Bath, to the 30-man squad indicated that the coach was insuring himself against a possible change in his back-three thinking. If Van Gisbergen plays, he will at least share the marksmanship duties with the Sale outside-half Charlie Hodgson, who is certain to start against the Wallabies. If he does not, Barkley's kicking will surely come into the equation.

Steve Borthwick replaces the stricken Brown in the middle-jumping role. In truth, the Bath captain should not have been omitted in the first place. Equally predictably, Robinson has asked the Gloucester flanker Andy Hazell to fill the hole created by Worsley's misfortune. The coach has retained the Leicester lock, Louis Deacon, who filled in for the absent Leeds second-rower, Tom Palmer, at the recent training get-together at Loughborough, and promoted two wings in the contrasting shapes of Tom Voyce, the elusive Wasps finisher, and Ben Cohen of Northampton: the rapier and the bludgeon.

Cohen, a World Cup-winner in Sydney two years ago, has not started a match for England since they imploded against Australia in Brisbane in the summer of 2004 - an unmitigated failure that turned out to be Sir Clive Woodward's farewell to his country. He played walk-on roles in last year's autumn series and was given a few minutes against France in the Six Nations Championship, but to all intents and purposes, he has been a peripheral figure.

Indeed, he appeared to be outside Robinson's orbit at the start of the current season, having declined a place on the stand-by list for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand last summer. But he has scored heavily for Northampton in recent weeks and says he has rediscovered his enthusiasm. "I saw rugby as just a job last year - one I did not enjoy," he admitted yesterday. "Now, the stuff we are doing at club level is great. This is the best I have been coached. I have not scored tries in this volume for a long time and it is such a boost to my confidence."

Scotland, meanwhile, have pulled in Phil Godman, the outside-half who made a significant contribution to Edinburgh's fine victory over Wasps, as they prepare for forthcoming meetings with Argentina, Samoa and the All Blacks. Frank Hadden, the new national coach, has also added two Glasgow players, the centre Graeme Morrison and the lock Gregor Hayter, along with the Newport-Gwent Dragons flanker, Andy Hall.

England squad

Backs: O Barkley (Bath), B Cohen (Northampton), M Cueto (Sale Sharks), M Dawson (Wasps), H Ellis (Leicester), A Goode (Leicester), J Lewsey (Wasps), C Hodgson (Sale Sharks), J Noon (Newcastle), P Richards (Gloucester), O Smith (Leicester), M Tindall (Gloucester), M van Gisbergen (Wasps), T Voyce (Wasps).

Forwards: S Borthwick (Bath), M Corry (Leicester, capt), L Deacon (Leicester), P Freshwater (Perpignan), J Forrester (Gloucester), D Grewcock (Bath), A Hazell (Gloucester), C Jones (Sale Sharks), L Mears (Bath), L Moody (Leicester), P Sanderson (Worcester), S Shaw (Wasps), A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), M Stevens (Bath), S Thompson (Northampton), P Vickery (Gloucester).

On stand-by: S Abbott (Wasps), D Bell (Bath), G Chuter (Leicester), A Gomarsall (Worcester), T Palmer (Leeds), T Rees (Wasps), J Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), M Tait (Newcastle).

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