Johnson confident of recovery
January 6, 2000

England omitted injured captain Martin Johnson from their Six Nations training squad and said scrum-half Matt Dawson would replace him as captain if Johnson's achilles tendon injury did not clear up in time for the tournament.

Coach Clive Woodward ruled out any possibility of Lawrence Dallaglio regaining the captaincy he lost following newspaper allegations last year that he took recreational drugs on the 1997 British Lions tour to South Africa.

The 35 men named for the training session on January 9-11 included nine newcomers. Bath players were not nominated as they would be preparing for a Cup game.

The training session will be England's first get-together since their disappointing display in the World Cup last October when they were well beaten by South Africa in the quarter-finals.

Woodward said a second session would end on January 18 after which two 26-man squads would be named, one for the Six Nations and one for England A internationals.

"As far as the captaincy is concerned, Martin Johnson remains my number one choice and he is confident that he will be fit for the start of the championship," Woodward said.

"However, if Martin is not fit, Matt Dawson will captain the team, on merit, during the Six Nations."

He added: "There has been speculation concerning the possibility of Lawrence Dallaglio resuming the role on a temporary basis should Martin remain injured.

"But I want Lawrence to continue to play and enjoy his rugby without any additional responsibilities."

Other absentees unable to join the session due to injury include wing Dan Luger, flyhalf Paul Grayson, full-back Nick Beal, prop Darren Garforth, scrumhalf Kyran Bracken, wing David Rees and second rower Danny Grewcock.

The only significant name to be axed is hooker Richard Cockerill. "This decision is based purely on merit," said Woodward. "However, I will continue to monitor his form."

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