England boosted by Shaw injury news

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The Independent Online

England were today finally offered some encouraging news on the injury front when Wasps predicted that Simon Shaw should be available to face Argentina.

Shaw is on course to make his first appearance since the Lions tour in Sunday's Guinness Premiership clash with Leeds after recovering from a metatarsal injury.

The 36-year-old was omitted from England's senior squad for the autumn series against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand to enable Martin Johnson to secure cover at second row.

But Wasps director of rugby Tony Hanks insisted that should Shaw emerge unscathed from matches against Leeds and London Irish a week later, England must pick him to face the Pumas on November 14.

"Simon should be back for Leeds, if he comes through this week. He's been working hard and looks ready to go," said Hanks.

"England will be looking at him. He hasn't played since the Lions and they say you're only as good as your last game, so he's in a nice spot at the moment.

"That was a while back though and Simon himself feels he needs to get some rugby under his belt. Seeing him back in an England jersey would be great.

"With most players you'd say two games wouldn't be enough, but Simon Shaw is not a normal player.

"If he comes through the next two weeks feeling like he's ready, then you put him in because he'll be ready."

Shaw's exclusion left Wasps with just two players - Tim Payne and Joe Worsley - in England's squad for the November internationals.

A report over the weekend claimed that fly-half Danny Cipriani, who is recovering from a fractured fibula, and leading try-scorer Tom Varndell had been blacklisted by manager Martin Johnson because of character flaws.

But Hanks denied any knowledge that the duo had fallen out of favour.

"The feedback I've had from England is that they were impressed with Tom. They thought he started the season well," he said.

"Everything Danny's done has been positive too. He's someone they could have considered at full-back or fly-half.

"In the conversations I've had with England there was no talk of a blacklist."

However, Hanks was surprised Wasps are not better represented in the squad.

"Our second row has been going pretty well and we're disappointed they haven't been recognised higher up," he said.

"George Skivington and Richard Birkett have done a great job and are at the top in terms of stats. They have played a key role. They must have been close.

"Paul Sackey has been playing good rugby and must have been close - his all-round game has been excellent - while Tom Varndell has played well."

Hanks dismissed comments made earlier this week by Wales coach Warren Gatland - one of his predecessors at Wasps - that the current Guinness Premiership is the weakest he has seen.

"Supporters are coming in their droves and that's a good indication of the Premiership's quality," he said.

"Anyone can beat anyone on any given day and that's what you want from a competition. It's well supported.

"I'll give Warren a call this week and ask him about it myself. It's good natured and Warren is in Test mode right now.

"If everyone gets a chuckle out of it it will be great."