ENGLAND are sweating on the fitness of fly-half Jonny Wilkinson for the crunch Six Nations clash with Ireland on Saturday.
Boss Martin Johnson drafted Sale’s Charlie Hodgson into the squad yesterday after Wilkinson suffered from muscle tightness.
The World Cup-winning No10’s place was already the subject of debate following England’s lacklustre win in Italy earlier this month.
Hodgson, who trained with the squad yesterday, has not won a cap since a disastrous performance on the 2008 tour to New Zealand. Leicester’s Toby Flood put Wilkinson under further pressure for the fly-half berth with an inspirational display in Saturday’s win over Gloucester.
Johnson has also welcomed back Wasps flanker Joe Worsley following his return to fitness, while Brive centre Jamie Noon has replaced the injured Dan Hipkiss.
Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips, meanwhile, has been handed a shock recall to the side to face France on Friday night. Phillips has played just 40 minutes for club side Ospreys in the last four months after returning from a serious knee injury.
Yet Wales coach Warren Gatland has included him on the replacements’ bench for the must-win clash against the title favourites in Cardiff.
Phillips is named as back-up to Richie Rees, who replaces Gareth Cooper. Lock Deiniol Jones comes into the second row, while hooker Huw Bennett takes over from the injured Gareth Williams. Jonathan Thomas switches from lock to flanker.