Rugby World Cup 2011
Moody fitness not a concern for Johnson
September 5, 2011
Martin Johnson did not want any distractions over his captain's availability ahead of Saturday's game against the Pumas © Getty Images
England team manager Martin Johnson is confident that captain Lewis Moody will be fit for Sunday week's World Cup clash with Georgia.
Bath flanker Moody has been ruled out of Saturday's meeting with Argentina because of a knee ligament strain suffered in the warm-up win over Wales at Twickenham on August 6.
It had been expected that Moody would be fit to lead his side in their tournament opener against the Pumas and his absence has cast further doubt over exactly how much of a role he will be able to play in England's campaign. However, Johnson revealed that Moody is progressing well and could even have considered his skipper for selection had he deemed doing so worth the risk.
"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. "He has been running around today 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."
Chris Ashton admitted that the loss of Moody is a blow for England but he believes that, so tightly-knit is the squad, that they will be able to cope without their leader. Ashton also feels that in James Haskell is more than capable of filling the void left by Haskell on the openside.
"It is always a blow to lose your captain and he is a man of such experience, having played in three World Cups," the Northampton wing said. "But he is still around the squad. We are all together and a tight group and together all the time.
"He is not going to be on the field but he is going to with us right up until the end. It is disappointing but there are other people who can step up in his place. James Haskell played really well last week against Ireland and there are other lads who can step into that position."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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