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Heineken Cup
Wood ruled out of Heineken final
ESPNscrum Staff
May 18, 2011

England flanker Tom Wood has been ruled out of Northampton's Heineken Cup final clash against Leinster at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Wood, the Aviva Premiership Player of the Year, has lost his battle with a hairline leg fracture he sustained against Gloucester on April 19.

"Tom is not 100% fit. He's very, very close and I guess if we were a desperate team we could have taken the chance with him," Saints boss Jim Mallinder said. "But it's not worth it. We have a strong squad who have been playing well and unfortunately he won't be running out on Saturday.

"It's a big blow but when you get to this stage of the season with only one player out, then you'd probably take it."

The news is a bitter blow to the 24-year-old, who has been one of the Saints' standout performers this season after making the switch from Worcester. Along with his recent Premiership award he has been nominated for the prestigious Rugby Players' Association Players' Player of the Year prize.

Wood made his England bow in the opening game of this year's Six Nations, against Wales, and played all five matches as they fell short of a Grand Slam. His place in the back-row for this weekend's showpiece is set to go to Calum Clark, who wore No.6 in last weekend's Premiership semi-final loss to Leicester at Welford Road.

Mallinder confirmed that England winger Chris Ashton is fit to play despite requiring stitches after being punched by Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi.

"Chris is fine. He took a heavy blow. He wasn't concussed or knocked out and carried on playing," Mallinder said. "It's been out in the press about his knee injury and that's been ongoing for a couple of months. That's not an issue. He will be full on for Saturday. He's sat out contact training - he'd already got a split above one eye before that incident. The doctor was busy at half time, he was busy stitching up both eyes, but Chris is fine."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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