Martin Johnson quiet on England captaincy decision

By Alex Lowe,Pa
Monday 24 January 2011 18:58

Martin Johnson today reinforced his injury-hit squad ahead of the RBS 6 Nations - but he is remaining tight-lipped over who will captain England into the championship.

Northampton loose-forwards Tom Wood and Phil Dowson have both joined England's pre-tournament training camp as replacements for the injured flankers Tom Croft and Lewis Moody.

Leicester lock George Skivington has been propelled into the senior squad to provide cover for Courtney Lawes, who could miss the whole Six Nations with a knee injury.

And Bath's Nick Abendanon has also flown to Portugal after being called up to replace the suspended London Irish full-back Delon Armitage.

Moody, Johnson's captain, is recovering from knee ligament damage which threatens to rule him out of England's first three games of the championship.

Nick Easter and Mike Tindall are the two leading candidates to deputise as captain when England open their campaign against Wales in Cardiff on February 4.

But Johnson will not be naming his side for that showdown until two days before the game and there will be no clues beforehand - not even at Wednesday's official launch.

Tournament organisers request the coach and captain of each team be present at the Hurlingham Club and Johnson will be accompanied by Moody, while Easter and Tindall remain in Portugal.

Easter deputised as captain against Samoa in November, although Tindall was rested that day alongside Moody.

England medics were today assessing the severity of a calf injury suffered by Hendre Fourie, Moody's likely replacement at openside flanker.

Wood also offers cover in the position while Dowson, also uncapped, can play at blindside or number eight and he will be competing with Joe Worsley and James Haskell for a place in England's match 22.

Skivington has taken over from Lawes on the back of an impressive run of form for the Tigers, including a destructive lineout performance against Northampton

Abendanon is a specialist full-back replacement for the more versatile Armitage, who is appealing against an eight-week ban for pushing an anti-doping official.

England have also made seven changes to the Saxons squad preparing for games against Italy A and Ireland A - including a call-up from the Under-20s for Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi.

Harlequins full-back Mike Brown replaces Abendanon while his club-mate George Robson takes over from the suspended Dave Attwood.

England have been forced to reshuffle their squad further by injuries to Worcester prop Matt Mullan, Sale centre Mathew Tait and Saracens full-back Alex Goode plus Wasps hooker Rob Webber and lock Dan Ward-Smith.

London Irish hooker James Buckland, Worcester lock Graham Kitchener, Gloucester prop Nick Wood and the Kingsholm full-back Olly Morgan have been drafted in.

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