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English Rugby
Johnson backs Moody to face Ireland
ESPNscrum Staff
August 16, 2011

England boss Martin Johnson believes Lewis Moody will be ready to feature in their final World Cup warm-up fixture against Ireland a week on Saturday despite worries over the skipper's fitness.

Moody has been troubled by a right knee problem which ruled him out of the 2011 Six Nations and the injury raised its head again during England's 23-19 win over Wales on August 6. And despite concerns over his captain's fitness, Johnson is adamant that he - along with injured duo Ben Youngs and Andrew Sheridan - will be fit enough to face Ireland.

"I am confident all three will go to New Zealand," Johnson said. "Sheri's (Sheridan) up at Sale working away while the other guys are working with the medical and strength guys. And I am confident they will be available next week."

Despite good news in the medical room department, Johnson's midfield combination of Mike Tindall and Shontayne Hape came in for more criticism following a performance against Wales on Saturday where England failed to cross the try-line for the first time in 14 Tests. And despite their inability to convert chances into tries, Johnson has backed the duo to respond in kind and replicate the form which saw England finish the 2011 Six Nations as top try-scorers.

"The midfield has been good enough to win the Six Nations and good enough to win in the southern hemisphere so it's not all bad," Johnson said. "We scored the most tries in the championship in two of the last three years so you can look at it easily in both ways."

With Johnson naming his final 30-man squad for the World Cup on Monday, his charges will go into their final warm-up Test against old rivals on Ireland on August 27 knowing they have done enough to secure a place on the plane to New Zealand. However, that is only half the battle with places in Johnson's starting XV still up for grabs for their tournament opener against Argentina on September 10.

And despite seeing his side go down to a resilient Wales unit on Saturday, Johnson is adamant that his side will go out against Ireland looking for the win.

"It's a big game. We want to go to Dublin and perform because we did not do ourselves justice in March.

"For Ireland we will have narrowed things down a bit in the terms of how we want to play. We will go there and look to win.

"If you look at other teams Ireland have lost two (warm-up) games, Wales have won one and lost one, with these games you have a bigger picture in mind, but we want to get in next week and improve."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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