Hodgson called up as Wilkinson cover ahead of Ireland match

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The Independent Online

Charlie Hodgson, the outside-half who might have been a world-beater but for an unfortunate habit of getting beaten up in the tackle, reappeared in the England squad yesterday for the first time since being steamrollered by sundry All Blacks on the ill-starred tour of New Zealand in 2008.

The Sale player was called in as cover for Jonny Wilkinson, who withdrew from training with some vague form of "muscle tightness". There was no suggestion from the red-rose camp that Wilkinson might miss the Six Nations contest with Ireland, the defending champions, at Twickenham on Saturday.

Some of Hodgson's recent club rugby has been of the vintage variety – "sublime", according to the Sale boss, Kingsley Jones – and his return to the England fold, however temporary it turns out to be, will be welcomed by those of us who like their No 10s to have a little art and craft about them.

Two more old-stagers were added to the squad as well: the centre Jamie Noon, now playing his club rugby in France, and the flanker Joe Worsley. Noon was summoned because the Leicester midfielder Dan Hipkiss picked up an ankle injury during his club's Premiership victory over Gloucester at the weekend. Worsley, who played a full game for Wasps against Saracens on Sunday, has been on the fringes of the party ever since regaining full fitness earlier this month.

Martin Johnson, the England manager, was due to name his side today. He has a choice to make at tight-head prop, where Dan Cole of Leicester and David Wilson of Bath are arguing over who should anchor the scrum, but for the most part, the coaches are likely to keep faith with the side that chiselled out a narrow victory over Italy in Rome nine days ago.

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