Corbisiero steps up for injured Sheridan
March 11, 2011
Toby Flood will fill the England No.10 shirt against Scotland at Twickenham on Sunday © Getty Images
Alex Corbisiero is set to win his third England cap after being named in the side to tackle Scotland in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Sunday.
The London Irish prop takes over from the injured Andrew Sheridan in the only change to the side that beat France 17-9 a fortnight ago. Corbisiero made an impressive debut against the feared Italian front row last month and he also stepped up against France when Sheridan was forced out of the game with a torn calf.
Sheridan has since been ruled out of the rest of the Six Nations but fly-half Toby Flood has recovered from the Achilles injury that sidelined him against Les Bleus to retain the No.10 shirt.
There are two changes on the replacements bench with Gloucester's Paul Doran-Jones taking the place vacated by Corbisiero while Leicester flanker Tom Croft comes in for Leeds' Hendre Fourie having recovered from a shoulder injury sustained against South Africa in November.
But Northampton lock Courtney Lawes will have to wait for his return to England action, with veteran lock Simon Shaw continuing to provide the second row cover. Lawes declared himself fit for action after returning from knee ligament damage for Northampton and has been training with the squad.
England are unbeaten after three Six Nations fixtures for the first time since they last completed the Grand Slam, when Johnson was captain in 2003. Johnson's men are red hot favourites to despatch the Scots, who have not won at Twickenham since 1983 and head into the game on the back of defeats to France, Wales and Ireland.
Johnson insists that England will be fully focused on beating the Scots and that nobody in the camp is thinking ahead to a potential Grand Slam. "Test match rugby has a way of focusing your mind," Johnson told Sky Sports News. "It is a close tournament - three teams have lost one game - and Scotland will come here and give it a right go. They will play with a huge amount of pride. They have got threats and we've got to be alert for that.
Asked if England could make a statement with their performance against the Scots on Sunday, Johnson replied, "The only statement you can make is winning. For us it is concentrating on being the best team we can on Sunday. You can see how we want to play but sometimes we have to play a different way to win. On Sunday we have to try to find a way to beat Scotland."
Johnson has every confidence that Corbisiero will prove a strong replacement for Sheridan against the Scots. "He came in for the Italy game and came off the bench for Sheri against France and he's done very well," said Johnson. "We knew he was a good player. He's had an opportunity through injuries and he's taken it."
Croft is back in the squad for the first time since fracturing his shoulder against South Africa in the autumn but Johnson has resisted the temptation to start with him and Tom Wood keeps his place. "Tom (Croft) has had three games now so he's ready for the bench. He gives us some real flexibility off the bench. Tom Wood has played very well. He has come in and had three games but it feels like he has been here a lot longer."
Earlier in the week Scotland coach Andy Robinson accused England hooker Dylan Hartley of standing up in scrums in an attempt to 'milk penalties' but Johnson refused to be drawn into a war of words. "We have been good scrummaging-wise this tournament," insisted Johnson. "We want to stay up and scrummage and the referee will reward the team that has dominance there."
England: Ben Foden (Northampton Saints); Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby, captain), Shontayne Hape (Bath Rugby), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks); Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Stade Francais), Nick Easter (Harlequins)
Replacements: Steve Thompson (Leeds Carnegie), Paul Doran-Jones (Gloucester Rugby), Simon Shaw (London Wasps), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Danny Care (Harlequins), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon), Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby)
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