Toby Flood expected to be fit for England

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The Independent Online

England last night provided a clear indication that Toby Flood will be fit for Sunday's Calcutta Cup showdown with Scotland by releasing Charlie Hodgson from the camp.

Flood, the Leicester fly-half, injured an Achilles during England's 17-9 victory over France, prompting manager Martin Johnson to put Jonny Wilkinson on stand-by during last week's training camp in Oxford.

But Flood's participation at Twickenham no longer appears to be in doubt, with Wilkinson set to retain his place on the bench for the Scotland game leaving Hodgson clear to return home.

Leeds flanker Hendre Fourie was also among the 10 players released, indicating that Leicester flanker Tom Croft will feature in the 22-man squad to face Scotland.

Croft has made three appearances for Leicester since recovering from the fractured shoulder he suffered playing for England against South Africa in the autumn.

Courtney Lawes, who was sidelined for England's first three RBS 6 Nations championship wins with knee ligament damage, has also been retained by Johnson ahead of Friday's team announcement.

Unbeaten England are priced as 1-14 favourites to despatch Scotland and leave themselves one step away from a first Grand Slam triumph since Johnson was captain in 2003.

Scotland, in contrast, are without a win in the championship and now strong wooden spoon contenders. They have not won at Twickenham since 1983.

Johnson believes that predicament will make Andy Robinson's team particularly dangerous.

"For Scotland to come to Twickenham and win would be a big result for them," Johnson said.

"It is an easy game for them in a way because everyone is talking about us. They will be desperate to get a win, desperate to win at Twickenham and beat England.

"They will be dangerous and we need to get ourselves at the right level. It would be a big result for us if we can win."

Johnson has no doubts his men will approach the Calcutta Cup clash with the right attitude because he places a huge amount of stock in the character of his players, a lesson learned from speaking to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

"This is a big, big Test match and we need to be right at our very best and improve from what we did against France," Johnson said.

"Arsene Wenger was saying that you need the right characters in the group who will help you win.

"You need guys who want to win, be successful and who are always striving to be better.

"The younger players we have brought in have the talent skill-wise to play international rugby and they have the desire and the attitude they need to go from good players to become world-class players.

"You can't give that to them, that part of their personality has to be there.

"The young guys we've got are not here for fame or fortune, they are here because they want to be successful rugby players and to play well for England.

"It sounds a very simple thing. But you need those type of personalities in the squad and I think we've got quite a few there now."