Rugby Union round-up: Cueto heads the growing list of England worries

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England's recently appointed head coach Brian Ashton has a back-three headache ahead of the Six Nations' opener against Scotland on Saturday week. The Wasps' wing Paul Sackey could be out for four weeks with a knee injury and the Sale wing Mark Cueto admitted yesterday he was unlikely to recover from a calf problem in time to face the Scots.

Cueto's Sale team-mate Jason Robinson, who confirmed his comeback from international retirement when named in Ashton's 33-man squad earlier this month, also sat out yesterday's Heineken Cup match against the Ospreys with a stiff neck, and is already ruled out of his club's last fixture before the Six Nations, at Gloucester on Saturday.

Northampton's place in the last eight of the Heineken Cup was sealed last night ahead of today's final pool game against Biarritz at Franklin's Gardens. Meanwhile, Brive and Toulouse head the queue to sign the England hooker Steve Thompson who still has two years of his Northampton contract to run but is known to be keen on a move across the Channel.

Bath ran in six tries yesterday, all converted by Olly Barkley, to beat Montpellier 42-17 at the Rec in the European Challenge Cup and set up a home quarter-final clash with Bristol over the weekend of 29 March to 1 April. Newcastle, 50-6 winners away to Petrarca, must visit Clermont Auvergne while Saracens entertain Glasgow and Newport Gwent Dragons play host to Brive.

Gareth Thomas has signed a two-year deal to return to Welsh club rugby next season with Cardiff Blues. The 32-year-old, who led Wales to the Grand Slam in 2005, will move next summer at the end of his three-year stay at Toulouse. He said: "Wales is where I'm from, it's where my family are and it's where I want to end my career. I loved my time in France, but I want to return to Wales."