Lewis Moody ruled out of France clash

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The Independent Online

Lewis Moody's hopes of captaining England against France at Twickenham on Saturday have been wrecked by a recurrence of his knee injury.

The Bath flanker missed England's opening RBS 6 Nations victories against Wales and Italy after being sidelined for five weeks with ligament damage.



Moody had always targeted the France game and he returned to action last weekend with a 23-minute cameo off the bench against Northampton.



But Moody, capped 66 times by England, is not fit enough to feature in Martin Johnson's 22-man squad for Saturday's pivotal showdown at Twickenham.



England make one change from the side that started the 59-13 rout of Italy, with Andrew Sheridan returning at loose-head prop after recovering from a back problem.



Alex Corbisiero, who made his Test debut against the Azzurri as a last-minute replacement for Sheridan, moves to the bench in place of the injured David Wilson.



With Moody still out, Mike Tindall retains the captaincy as the two remaining unbeaten teams in the championship lock horns at Twickenham with a potential Grand Slam on the line.

Johnson said of Moody's absence: "He's our captain, we all know what he brings to the team and he's worked really hard to get back, everyone was confident but these things happen, unfortunately.

"He's disappointed, but we haven't had him so far and the other guys have done a good job, we're fully happy with James (Haskell) and Tom (Wood).



"It's a consistent team selection, there's lots of guys playing well in the Premiership and putting pressure on the but we thought this was the right group to go with."

France coach Marc Lievremont has been outspoken in the build-up to the game, suggesting his side "don't like" England and adding: "We appreciate our Italian cousins with whom we share the same quality of life.

"We appreciate the Celts and their conviviality and then among all these nations we have one huge thing in common. We all don't like the English."



Johnson today laughed off those comments, but made it clear he relishes the confrontation.



"I haven't worked out what (the comments) are," he said. "There were some more today but we've been busy getting ready.



"I quite like it, it's international sport and it's about backing your country.



"I wasn't quite so sure of the Franco-Italian relationship, I'm glad he's cleared that up. We're fairly confident about how the Celts feel about us, we knew about that one."



On the match itself, he added: "Everybody's looking forward to it, the opening game was a big one and now we've won two but we're not getting carried away.



"They've won eight on the trot in the championship, it's a couple of years ago (that they last lost).



"They can beat anyone in the world, people talk about which team's going to turn up - well, we can't affect that until five o'clock. We can only affect which England turns up - and it's going to be the best one."





England team to play France in the RBS 6 Nations Championship at Twickenham on Saturday, February 26 (kick-off 1700):

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 Sheridan (Sale Sharks), 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), A Corbisiero (London Irish), S Shaw (London Wasps), H Fourie (Leeds Carnegie), D Care (Harlequins), J Wilkinson (Toulon), M Banahan (Bath Rugby).

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