Dowson joins up with England squad

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The Independent Online

Northampton number eight Phil Dowson has been called into the England squad as cover for injured flanker Hendre Fourie.

Dowson had been due to captain the England Saxons against Russia in the Churchill Cup today, but he will instead fly from the United States to link up with Martin Johnson's squad in Australia.

Fourie was one of England's better performers in yesterday's 28-28 draw with the Australian Barbarians before being forced off at half-time with a right calf problem.

Dowson was considered extremely unfortunate not to have made the initial 44-man senior squad after an outstanding season for Northampton.

The 28-year-old Saints skipper was shortlisted for the Guinness Premiership player of the season and he provides Johnson with options across the back row.

Dowson's preferred position is number eight but he is comfortable at blindside flanker and had been due to play for the Saxons at openside.

Leicester-bound lock George Skivington will now take over as Saxons captain with Saracens flanker Andy Saull coming into the team.

England were this morning waiting for the results of Dave Attwood's disciplinary hearing after the Gloucester lock was cited for two alleged stamping incidents in the Barbarians game.

Attwood, 23, is alleged to have stamped on the Barbarians scrum-half Josh Valentine in the 34th minute and his opposite number Mitch Chapman in the 50th minute.

Video footage of the second incident shows Attwood's right foot making contact with Chapman's head as he freed himself from a tangle of bodies.

Barbarians captain Stephen Hoiles is seen appealing in vain for the touch judge to take action. Chapman then left the field in a blood substitution.

Judicial officer Paul Tully will have to determine whether the contact was deliberate.

If Attwood is found guilty he could be ruled out of the remainder of England's five-match tour of Australia and New Zealand.