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Strettle absent from England tour match

England withdrew wing David Strettle from their tour match against the Southern Barbarians on Wednesday afternoon, fuelling speculation over their line-up for this weekend's second Test.

Strettle missed the first Test defeat by South Africa in Durban last weekend with a calf injury but had been included in the side to face the composite team in Kimberley. It was thought the game might be an opportunity for the Saracens back to prove his fitness, but a team note from the Rugby Football Union suggested he was already in good shape.

It read: "Strettle has been removed from the line-up to offer selection options ahead of Saturday's second Test against South Africa."

England must make two changes in their back line for the second Test in Johannesburg after losing full-back Mike Brown and centre Brad Barritt to injury.

A vacancy could arise on the wing if head coach Stuart Lancaster decides to switch Ben Foden from out wide to his preferred full-back position.

Ugo Monye offers another wing option while Alex Goode, who was due to face the Southern Barbarians, could be an alternative full-back.

Centre Jonathan Joseph could earn a first start in Barritt's place, although he could play outside centre if Manu Tuilagi moves inside, or even to the wing.

There are other permutations depending on whether Owen Farrell is moved from fly-half.

Lancaster is due to announce his team on Thursday.


From Belfast Telegraph