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Friday, November 21, 2008

Andrew Sheridan to miss Springbok Test

England prop Andrew Sheridan has been ruled out of Saturday's Test against South Africa because of a neck injury.

Wasps front-rower Tim Payne has been promoted above replacement prop Matt Stevens to take Sheridan's place.

Sheridan suffered the injury during the loss to Australia last weekend and the Rugby Football Union says he is being rested "as a precaution".

There is one other change from the side that played the Wallabies, flanker James Haskell replacing Tom Croft.

The injury rounds off a disappointing week for Sheridan, who struggled for dominance against the Australian scrum as England slumped to a 28-14 defeat at Twickenham.

Sheridan, who demolished the Aussie set piece in 2005 and in last year's World Cup quarter-final, had a frustrating time at the hands of opposite number Al Baxter and ended up being replaced after 67 minutes.

He has been on "modified training" this week and was ruled of Saturday's game after failing to take part in Thursday's scrummaging session.

The giant Sale prop is expected to be fit for England's final Test of the autumn against New Zealand a week on Saturday, 29 November.

Captain Steve Borthwick said: "Andrew Sheridan is a very important player to us but we also believe we have some great depth in props.

"We have the ability to bring Matt Stevens off the bench, Phil Vickery can also play either side. We have great flexibility and great power."

Payne has won eight caps for England, his last appearance coming on the summer tour to New Zealand, when he again deputised for Sheridan who had suffered a gash to the eye.

Haskell was the only change to manager Martin Johnson's starting XV when he named his team to face the world champions on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old was one of England's few successes on the ill-fated summer tour of New Zealand but struggled for form as Wasps made a poor start to the season.

Croft took his place for the Tests against the Pacific Islanders and Australia but the 6ft 4in, 18 stone Haskell offers a more physical presence in defence and as a ball-carrier around the fringes and impressed after coming on midway through the Australia defeat.

The Leicester flanker is now on the bench, where he is joined by Tigers team-mate Jordan Crane, as Michael Lipman drops out of the 22.

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