England v Italy, Six Nations, Twickenham, February 12
Corbisiero replaces Sheridan in England line-up
ESPNscrum Staff
February 11, 2011
England prop Alex Corbisiero pictured in training, England training session, Twickenham, England, February 11, 2011
London Irish loose-head Alex Corbisiero is set to make his Test debut at Twickenham on Saturday © Getty Images

London Irish prop Alex Corbisiero will make his Test debut in England's Six Nations meeting with Italy tomorrow after Andrew Sheridan was ruled out with a back injury.

Sheridan reported soreness after training yesterday and the final decision to pull him out was made by England's medical team this morning. Corbisiero, 23, played for the Saxons over the last two weekends and trained with the senior squad this week.

England manager Martin Johnson opted to bring Corbisiero, who earlier today had been named in the Exiles side to face Newcastle in the Premiership, straight into the starting team, where he will lock horns with Leicester tight-head Martin Castrogiovanni, rather than promote David Wilson off the bench.

Corbisiero only joined up with the senior squad this week as an injury replacement for Wasps' Tim Payne. A former IRB Junior World Championship finalist, he played for the Saxons in the 2010 Churchill Cup and against Italy A and Ireland A earlier this year.

England manager Martin Johnson said, "Sheri ripped his back in training yesterday. He has progressed a bit this morning but not enough and we made the call that Alex is starting. We have no qualms putting him in there at loose-head and starting. David covers loose-head from the bench but Alex has more experience there.

"We trust all the squad to play. I had the conversation with Alex as we walked off the field on Tuesday. He was saying 'thanks for having me in'. I told him you are only an injury away from starting and you have got to be ready."

Corbisiero was born in New York but the family hail from Italy - his grandfather moved from Naples to start up a restaurant in the United States in the 1950s. Corbisiero has played for England at every age grade from the under-18s upwards and was a member of the 2008 Under-20s Grand Slam-winning team.

His breakthrough at London Irish came in the 2008-09 season, where he appeared off the bench for the Exiles in the Premiership final against Leicester. Corbisiero has made 21 appearances for London Irish this season, including seven starts.

"He has played in the Premiership for a few years now. He is fit, he is strong, he is keen and sharp. He understands the game and his role in it," Johnson said. "We are excited to have him in the side. We felt like we found a Test-quality player last week (in Tom Wood) and hopefully we will find one tomorrow."

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