Rugby World Cup 2011: England still hopeful over Nick Easter

Rugby World Cup 2011 Pool B: England v Romania

Venue:
Otago Stadium, Dunedin
Date:
Saturday 24 September
Kick-off:
0700 BST/ 1800 NZ
Coverage:
Scores and reports on BBC website plus live text commentaries on all home nations matches; updates on BBC Radio 5 live; watch live on ITV1/ITV4, live commentary on talkSPORT radio
Nick Easter (centre) on the charge against Argentina
Easter (centre) played in England's opening victory against Argentina

England are hopeful Nick Easter will be fit to return to action during the World Cup but will decide on his future after Saturday's game with Romania.

The 33-year-old number eight missed last Sunday's win over Georgia with a back injury and is sidelined for this weekend's match in Dunedin.

Leicester's Thomas Waldrom is on stand-by to replace him.

"We're hoping he'll be good to go next week, the signs are he will be," said England manager Martin Johnson.

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"It looks good but these things are day to day. We've got to [make a decision] after the game.

"He'd be a loss. That's why we had guys in through the [summer training] camp. Thomas was in learning what we do, so if the situation arises he can put himself in contention pretty quickly.

"I think Nick will be OK. He's desperate to get back and play but we'll see how it progresses over the next 48 hours."

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James Haskell will start at number eight in Easter's absence against Romania, having also successfully deputised for Lewis Moody at open-side in England's tournament-opening 13-9 victory over Argentina.

Haskell's form means there is no guarantee Easter would come straight back into the team to play Scotland, even if he was fully fit.

"[Haskell] came in last week for us at short notice and he's done very well," said Johnson.

"He's keen to improve and when he's been in the team, he's often covering multiple positions depending on who we have on the bench.

"At times he's covered all three, so he has to know all those roles and he's done a good job of it - he's playing well and he's a useful player to have with his utility."

England are still to replace injured prop Andrew Sheridan in their squad, with Johnson preferring to continue with a 29-man squad and keep his options open.

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