Rugby World Cup 2011: Moody returns to captain England

Martin Johnson (left) and Lewis Moody
Moody sustained knee ligament damage during a warm-up international against Wales last month.

Lewis Moody has been passed fit to captain a revamped England against Georgia in the World Cup on Sunday.

The Bath flanker, who missed England's opening win over Argentina with knee ligament damage, is one of nine changes to Martin Johnson's team.

Toby Flood starts at fly-half alongside scrum-half Ben Youngs with centre Shontayne Hape in for Mike Tindall.

Matt Stevens starts at loose-head with Dylan Hartley, Simon Shaw, Tom Palmer and Tom Wood also coming into the side.

Stevens replaces Sale's Sheridan, 31, who has been ruled out of the World Cup after injuring his left shoulder against the Pumas and returned home earlier this week.

James Haskell makes way for the returning Moody at open-side flanker after team doctors passed the 33-year-old fit to play.

Moody has played less than five full matches since first injuring his knee in a Heineken Cup match in January.

That injury ruled him out of the Six Nations and though he returned later in the season, Moody suffered knee ligament damage in England's first warm-up international against Wales last month.

"It is great to have Lewis back," said Johnson. "This is a chance for a lot of guys to play.

"That was always the plan, that people would have to play and be ready, to give them a chance for the second half of the pool."

Northampton flanker Wood makes his World Cup debut on the blind-side as Leicester's Tom Croft drops to the replacements bench.

Hartley takes over from veteran Steve Thompson at hooker with Shaw and Palmer forming a new second-row partnership as they take over from Louis Deacon and the suspended Courtney Lawes.

"Courtney is out for a couple of weeks but we would have played the other two locks anyway," added Johnson.

Number eight Nick Easter and tight-head prop Dan Cole are the only survivors in the pack that faced Argentina on Saturday.

Jonny Wilkinson drops to the bench to make way for Flood, who will resume his Six Nations-winning half-back partnership with Youngs.

The back three of Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Delon Armitage remain, with Mark Cueto not involved again after a back problem ruled him out of the win over Argentina.

Uncapped Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson could make his Test debut off the bench.

England: Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Shontayne Hape, Delon Armitage, Toby Flood, Ben Youngs; Matt Stevens, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Simon Shaw, Tom Palmer, Tom Wood, Lewis Moody (captain), Nick Easter. Replacements: Steve Thompson, Alex Corbisiero, Tom Croft, James Haskell, Joe Simpson, Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Banahan.

Georgia: Revaz Gigauri, Irakli Machkhaneli, David Kacharava, Tedo Zibzibadze, Alexander Todua, Merab Kvirikashvili, Irakli Abuseridze (captain); David Khinchagishvili, Jaba Bregvadze, David Kubriashvili, Ilia Zedginidze, Vakhtang Maisuradze, Shalva Sutiashvili, Mamuka Gorgodze, Dimitri Basilaia. Replacements: Akvsenti Giorgadze, David Zirakashvili, Levan Datunashvili, Giorgi Chkhaidze, Bidzina Samkharadze, Givi Berishvili, Lasha Khmaladze.

Top Stories