Abendanon exit could open door for Lewsey

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The Independent Online

Martin Johnson's new-look England suffered a blow yesterday with the news that Nick Abendanon will be out of action for up to four weeks.

Abendanon could miss the bulk of England's four-Test Autumn programme at Twickenham against the Pacific Islanders (8 November), Australia (15 November), South Africa (22 November) and New Zealand (29 November).

The Bath full-back was sent home from the England training headquarters at Pennyhill Park in Surrey yesterday after a scan revealed that the joint on his left big toe needed more time to heal. Abendanon suffered the injury earlier in the season and missed last weekend's EDF Energy Cup match at Sale.

In a statement the RFU said: "In agreement with Bath, Nick reported for England duty on Sunday night at the training camp. He was examined on arrival and it was decided by the England medical team that a scan was required, the results of which confirmed the opinion of the Bath medical team that whilst an operation was not necessary, Nick requires a further period of rest of two to four weeks." The RFU said there were no plans to call up a replacement at this stage.

Abendanon's misfortune could prove to be good news for Wasps' Josh Lewsey, who was one of eight players who were sent back to their clubs on Tuesday as Johnson pared down his elite squad to 32.

Hooker George Chuter, who was one of the eight to leave Pennyhill Park, is also crocked. A mild ligament strain to his left knee has ruled him out of Leicester's EDF Energy Cup match against Sale tomorrow night.

*Newcastle Falcons yesterday staved off a winding-up order which had been served on them by HM Revenue and Customs for non-payment of a National Insurance bill. A hearing had been set for next Wednesday, 5 November, in the High Court in London, but the Premiership club has avoided having to deal with legal fireworks by settling the debt on Monday. The club claims the matter had been a "misunderstanding".