England will give Moody until last minute to prove fitness

ENGLAND coaches have indicated they will give captain Lewis Moody until the last possible moment to prove his fitness for the World Cup.

Scans revealed yesterday that the knee injury suffered by the Bath flanker in Saturday’s 23-19 win over Wales at Twickenham was only a strain.

Moody will sit out Saturday’s return match at the Millennium Stadium but England’s medical staff are cautiously optimistic he will be fit for next month’s tournament.

And scrum coach Graham Rowntree said manager Martin Johnson would afford maximum recovery time to his first choice skipper before naming his final 30-man squad in 12 days’ time.

“Is it realistic he will be on the plane? It is too early to say with that injury. We will give him the time he needs,” said Rowntree.

“He is vital for us going forward. He has led from the front, led with energy and the guys respect him for that. He is doing a great job.

“We will see how he develops over the next few days. Our medics are fantastic here, they have worked wonders before. It is a mild strain, not a bad strain, which gives us hope.”

There remains the chance that Moody could be included while still recovering from the strain.

“It wouldn’t be the first World Cup squad to potentially take players who are injured,” Rowntree added. “But those kinds of decisions we’ll make nearer the time when we know how the injury has settled down.”