Johnson: Injured stars will be ready for World Cup duty

ENGLAND manager Martin Johnson expects to have a fully fit squad to select from when his side begin their World Cup campaign against Argentina in just under two weeks’ time.

All but one of Johnson’s 30-man party will touch down in New Zealand today, with Wasps forward Simon Shaw scheduled to fly out later once he has recovered from a stomach bug.

The fitness doubts which hover over skipper Lewis Moody, Nick Easter, Tom Wood, Ben Youngs and Mark Cueto threaten to disrupt Johnson’s preparations ahead of England’s Group B opener in Dunedin.

But the former World Cup winning captain is confident injuries won’t impact on the team he selects to face the Pumas.

“We’re pretty confident everyone will be fit to train in the Argentina week,” said Johnson.

“Tom Wood and Nick Easter, with their injuries in particular, and Mark Cueto should be fine by the end of the week.”

However, Johnson was under no illusions that injuries were bound to strike during what could be a near two-month stay in New Zealand.

“It’s a fact of life going into any Test week,” said Johnson. “It just makes it more difficult – 30 players so far away. But we’ll deal with that.”

England planned to base themselves in Christchurch, but the earthquake which struck in February now means they will train in Auckland, Queenstown and Dunedin.

Dunedin will host England’s first three group stage matches before Johnson’s men return to Auckland for the rest of their time in the tournament.