English Rugby
England set to announce World Cup squad
ESPNscrum Staff
August 22, 2011
England manager Martin Johnson talks to the media, England press conference, Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, England, March 17, 2011
Johnson's side will complete their World Cup preparations against Ireland in Dublin this weekend © Getty Images

England manager Martin Johnson is set to confirm his 30-man squad for next month's Rugby World Cup.

Wasps centre Riki Flutey is reportedly going to be the biggest casualty when the make-up of Johnson's party is confirmed this evening. The 31-year, who started the World Cup warm-up victory over Wales on August 6, is likely to miss out in the wake of the toe injury that ruled scrum-half Danny Care out of the tournament. That blow has caused Johnson to re-think his decision to take just two No.9s with his other intended option Ben Youngs still battling back from knee surgery.

Saracens' Richard Wigglesworth has been promoted in the pecking order as a result of Care's injury but doubts over his form have seen Johnson turn to Wasps' uncapped 23-year-old Joe Simpson in a bid to bolster his options. The versatile Flutey could have provided makeshift cover, along with fullback Ben Foden, but it appears Johnson has opted for a specialised No.9. As a result, a back has had to be sacrificed with Flutey the unlucky player.

Johnson has reportedly opted for a 17-13 split between forwards and backs with Bath flanker Lewis Moody set to provide a fitness boost and retain the captaincy of the side. Sale openside Hendre Fourie, who started against Wales in Cardiff in the second of England's warm-up clashes, is also set to miss out with veteran lock Simon Shaw one of those likely to make the grade.

Toulon's Jonny Wilkinson and Leicester's Toby Flood are the long-standing fly-half options while Northampton's Chris Ashton and Sale's Mark Cueto are set to be the only recognised wingers in the squad. Bath's Matt Banahan will provide cover out wide but will also be in the midfield mix alongside London Irish's Shontayne Hape, Gloucester's Mike Tindall and Leicester's Manu Tuilagi. London Irish's Delon Armitage and Foden are the chosen fullback options.

Up front, the versatility of Saracens prop Matt Stevens and Bath's David Wilson ensure their passage and they will be joined in the front row reserves by Leicester's Dan Cole, London Irish's Alex Corbisiero and Sale's Andrew Sheridan. Wasps' Steve Thompson is set to continue to deputise for first-choice hooker Dylan Hartley.

Leicester's Louis Deacon, Northampton's Courtney Lawes and Stade Francais' Tom Palmer join Shaw in the second row pool with Leicester flanker Tom Croft another option should he be needed. The latter also forms part of a competitive back-row selection also set to include Harlequins' Nick Easter, Japan-bound James Haskell and Northampton's Tom Wood.

England complete their warm-up Tests against Ireland on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium before opening their World Cup campaign against Argentina on September 10.

Probable squad:

Backs (13): Delon Armitage (London Irish), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints). Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), Matt Banahan (Bath). Shontayne Hape (London Irish), Mike Tindall (Gloucester), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers). Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon). Joe Simpson (London Wasps), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Forwards: (17): Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Matt Stevens (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath). Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Lee Mears (Bath), Steve Thompson (London Wasps), Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Tom Palmer (Stade Fran├žais), Simon Shaw (London Wasps). Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Nick Easter (Harlequins), James Haskell (Ricoh Black Rams), Lewis Moody (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints).

Those set to miss out: Tim Payne (London Wasps), Paul Doran-Jones (Northampton), George Chuter (Leicester), Mouritz Botha (Saracens), Joe Worsley (London Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Hendre Fourie (Sale Sharks), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester), Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), Riki Flutey (London Wasps), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester), James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), David Strettle (Saracens), Danny Care (Harlequins - injured)

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