LONDON // Joe Worsley will make his first start for England since the group stages of the 2007 World Cup after being selected as a openside flanker for Saturday's Six Nations game against Wales. Worsley replaces Steffon Armitage, who made his international debut in last Saturday's 36-11 win over Italy but has now dropped out of the match squad altogether. In England's only other change to face the tournament's defending champions, Mike Tindall has recovered from a back injury to take the place of Jamie Noon at outside centre. Worsley, predominantly a blindside flanker by trade, has been pressed into action in the No 7 jersey after England lost Tom Rees, Lewis Moody and Michael Lipman to injury. Armitage, on the other hand, struggled with the rigours of Test rugby on his debut last weekend.
Worsley played for England at openside in the World Cup warm-up internationals against Wales and France in the summer of 2007. Arguably his most famous performance in the position was for Wasps against Martin Johnson's Leicester in the 2005 Guinness Premiership final on the eve of the Lions tour, when he out-played the retiring Neil Back. Once again there is no place in England's squad for Danny Cipriani, who was left out by Johnson last week on the premise he needed game time but was then denied a chance to impress when the England Saxons' match against Ireland A was postponed due to the weather. Armitage is joined out of the squad by Ben Foden, who made a lively debut off the bench against Italy, and Shane Geraghty. Toby Flood takes over from Geraghty after recovering from a calf injury while Paul Hodgson provides the scrum-half cover. Injuries have also forced Scotland to delay naming their team for the clash with France. The head coach Frank Hadden was scheduled to announce his 22 for the match yesterday morning but deferred it till today. Scotland yesterday had concerns over 14 players, 12 of whom suffered knocks playing in Sunday's tournament opener against Wales. Of that dozen, the most doubtful were the prop Geoff Cross and wing Simon Webster, both of whom were briefly knocked out making tackles during the 26-13 defeat at Murrayfield. Both were forced to leave the field early in the game and they must pass cognitive tests before they can be allowed back. Cross, who made his debut on Sunday, also suffered strains to both knees. There were also knocks for Chris Cusiter (knee), Mike Blair (deadleg), Scott Gray (neck), Jim Hamilton (eye), Allan Jacobsen (knee), Jason White (calf), John Barclay (neck), Graeme Morrison (knee), Phil Godman (knee bruising) and Ben Cairns (hip). The two other injury worries are key forwards Euan Murray (rib) and Nathan Hines (knee), both of whom failed to recover in time to face Wales. After Sunday's game, Hadden described both as extremely doubtful for this week's trip to Paris but the Perpignan lock Hines was yesterday upbeat about his chances of being fit.
D Armitage (London Irish); P Sackey (Wasps), M Tindall (Gloucester), R Flutey (Wasps), M Cueto (Sale Sharks); A Goode (Brive), H Ellis (Leicester); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), L Mears (Bath), P Vickery (Wasps), S Borthwick (Saracens, capt), N Kennedy (London Irish), J Haskell (Wasps), J Worsley (Wasps), N Easter (Harlequins). Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton), J White (Leicester), T Croft (Leicester), L Narraway (Gloucester), P Hodgson (London Irish), T Flood (Leicester), M Tait (Sale Sharks).