Alex Corbisiero gets England call to face Scotland

Click to follow
The Independent Online

England manager Martin Johnson has made one change for Sunday's Calcutta Cup game against Scotland, with Alex Corbisiero replacing the injured Andrew Sheridan at loose-head prop.

Corbisiero will win his third cap after Sheridan tore his calf in England's 17-9 victory over France and was ruled out of the remainder of the RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Toby Flood has recovered from the Achilles injury that forced him off against France to continue at fly-half in a settled starting team.

The only position in which Johnson has had to make changes all tournament is at loose-head prop and they have all been forced upon him by injuries.

Corbisiero made an impressive debut against the feared Italian front row when Sheridan was pulled out on the eve of the game with a back injury.

Johnson has made two alterations to his bench for the Scotland clash.

Tom Croft returns to an England squad for the first time since fracturing his shoulder against South Africa in the final international of the autumn campaign.

The Leicester flanker has replaced Hendre Fourie among the replacements after proving his fitness in three appearances for the Tigers.

Gloucester prop Paul Doran-Jones has been promoted to fill Corbisiero's place on the bench with David Wilson still struggling with an ankle problem.

But Northampton lock Courtney Lawes will have to wait for his return to England action, with veteran lock Simon Shaw continuing to provide the second row cover.

Lawes declared himself fit for action after returning from knee ligament damage for Northampton and has been training with the squad.

England are unbeaten after three RBS 6 Nations fixtures for the first time since they last completed the Grand Slam, when Johnson was captain in 2003.

Johnson's men are red hot favourites to despatch the Scots, who have not won at Twickenham since 1983 and head into the game on the back of defeats to France, Wales and Ireland.

Johnson insists that England will be fully focused on beating the Scots and that nobody in the camp is thinking ahead to a potential Grand Slam.

"Test match rugby has a way of focusing your mind," Johnson told Sky Sports News.

"It is a close tournament - three teams have lost one game - and Scotland will come here and give it a right go. They will play with a huge amount of pride.

"They have got threats and we've got to be alert for that.

Asked if England could make a statement with their performance against the Scots on Sunday, Johnson replied: "The only statement you can make is winning.

"For us it is concentrating on being the best team we can on Sunday.

"You can see how we want to play but sometimes we have to play a different way to win. On Sunday we have to try to find a way to beat Scotland."

Johnson has every confidence that Corbisiero will prove a strong replacement for Sheridan against the Scots.

"He came in for the Italy game and came off the bench for Sheri against France and he's done very well," said Johnson.

"We knew he was a good player. He's had an opportunity through injuries and he's taken it."

Croft is back in the squad for the first time since fracturing his shoulder against South Africa in the autumn but Johnson has resisted the temptation to start with him and Tom Wood keeps his place.

"Tom (Croft) has had three games now so he's ready for the bench. He gives us some real flexibility off the bench.

"Tom Wood has played very well. He has come in and had three games but it feels like he has been here a lot longer."

Earlier in the week Scotland coach Andy Robinson accused England hooker Dylan Hartley of standing up in scrums in an attempt to 'milk penalties' but Johnson refused to be drawn into a war of words.

He would only say: "We have been good scrummaging-wise this tournament. We want to stay up and scrummage and the referee will reward the team that has dominance there."

England team to play Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations at Twickenham on Sunday, March 5 (kick-off 3pm):

B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), M Tindall (Gloucester Rugby, capt), S Hape (Bath Rugby), M Cueto (Sale Sharks); T Flood (Leicester Tigers), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers); A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), L Deacon (Leicester Tigers), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Wood (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (Stade Francais), N Easter (Harlequins).

Replacements: S Thompson (Leeds Carnegie), P Doran-Jones (Gloucester), S Shaw (London Wasps), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), D Care (Harlequins), J Wilkinson (Toulon), M Banahan (Bath Rugby).