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Johnson upbeat over Moody

England manager Martin Johnson is confident his injured captain Lewis Moody still has a significant role to play in the Rugby World Cup.

Moody has been ruled out of England's opening showdown with Argentina after failing to recover from a knee ligament strain in time. The Bath flanker had been due to make a full return to training for the first time since suffering the injury in England's victory over Wales on August 6.

But the England medics declared Moody, who has been running and doing some training, was not right for a full contact session and Johnson decided not to risk him so early in the tournament. "It is the opening game of what hopefully is a long tournament so you can force these things sometimes and that can go either way," said Johnson.

It was something of a gamble for Johnson to travel with an injured captain in the first place - but he insisted replacing Moody in his 30-man squad was not on the cards. Moody's next target it to prove his fitness to face Georgia in England's second World Cup fixture, a week on Sunday.

Johnson added: "He has been running around so he is not a million miles away. We hope he should be fit (to play Georgia).

"We thought he would be fit for this one. The medics had hoped he'd be ready to go but he's not quite there. We are in a World Cup and it adds to the emotion of the whole thing.

"At their clubs they might be given until later in the week often, but we want to have a good full week of training this week with everyone ready to go."

Mike Tindall captained England in Moody's absence through the RBS 6 Nations and in their last two warm-up games, against Wales away and Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. James Haskell enjoyed an impressive Six Nations at openside and he is the obvious choice to start in the number seven jersey against Argentina.

Johnson will confirm his line-up to face Argentina on Thursday and Haskell's recent form for England clearly eased the disappointment of losing Moody.

"We are very happy with the other guys so it is a very simple decision to hold him back another week," said Johnson.


From Belfast Telegraph