Ben Foden adds to injury woes as England prepare for big Tests


Stuart Lancaster, the England coach, might be more interested in the political argy-bargy surrounding the future of the Heineken Cup if things were just a little quieter on the injury front ahead of an autumn international series in which his team will play southern hemisphere opposition on four consecutive weekends, including the world champions from New Zealand and their nearest challengers in the global rankings, Australia and South Africa. Unfortunately for him, the noise yesterday was very loud indeed.

Northampton announced that Ben Foden, hurt in a man-and-ball tackle by the Bath wing Tom Biggs during a Premiership match at the Recreation Ground last Friday night, had suffered "significant" ankle ligament damage and would be incapacitated for "a number of weeks". On the face of it, Foden's goose is well and truly cooked as far as the Tests in November and December are concerned.

Moved from full-back to left-wing during the summer series in South Africa, he would have been a hot favourite to wear the No 11 shirt against Fiji in a little over eight weeks' time and his likely absence raises an issue. The 32-man senior squad named by Lancaster in July is notably light on wings: the only true specialists are Chris Ashton of Saracens and Charlie Sharples of Gloucester. As things stand, Sharples is also on the injury list, having mangled his right shoulder joint at London Irish 11 days ago.

The coach is already a prop light as a result of Matt Stevens' retirement from international rugby; has lost his second-string hooker, Rob Webber of Bath, to long-term injury; and cannot be sure that any of what might be called his first-choice crocks – the scrum-half Ben Youngs, the prop Alex Corbisiero and the flanker Tom Croft – will be sufficiently fit to challenge for a place against the hard-hitting Fijians. Youngs and Corbisiero were hurt in Springbok country while Croft is still recovering from the serious neck injury he suffered while playing for Leicester at Harlequins in April. There is no immediate prospect of an early return for any of them.

Lancaster will, however, be encouraged by the return of the Northampton forward Courtney Lawes last week and must have reacted with considerable relief to yesterday's news that Tom Johnson, the Exeter back-rower, will recover from a rib injury sooner rather than later. Johnson, a major contributor in the drawn Test with the Boks in Johannesburg in June, left the field on a stretcher midway through his club's weekend defeat at London Welsh but, according to the Devonians, the problem is a lot less serious than originally feared.

Meanwhile, the warring factions left their first Heineken Cup summit in Dublin yesterday with no firm plan, barring an agreement to meet again in Rome on 8 October. A spokesman for the tournament administrators said there had been "productive discussions" on the future of European competition.

English and French clubs have served notice of their intention to quit the existing tournament in 2014 unless major competitive and commercial changes are agreed.


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific