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Thursday, September 23, 1999 Published at 20:45 GMT 21:45 UK

Bracken and Rees out of World Cup

Bracken had been seeing a faith healer in his bid to recover

England coach Clive Woodward is facing growing World Cup selection problems after first-choice scrum-half Kyran Bracken and winger David Rees were ruled out through injury.

The BBC's Alastair Hignell: "Comes as absolutely no surprise"
Saracens' Bracken has failed to recover from a back injury while Bristol winger Rees is still suffering from a groin problem that recurred during England's warm-up match against the Premiership All-Stars last Saturday.

Leicester's Leon Lloyd and Wasps Martyn Wood have been drafted in as replacements.

Lack of cover

The loss of Bracken and Rees had been expected, but their absence leaves Woodward running out of options for the pivotal scrum-half position, with England's opening group game against Italy just nine days away.

[ image: David Rees: Injury prone]
David Rees: Injury prone
Matt Dawson has been the first-choice scrum-half since Bracken's injury ruled him out of England's build-up, but there is a worrying lack of experienced cover for the number nine shirt which could prove England's undoing during the gruelling six-week tournament.

If Dawson gets injured, Woodward will be faced with either taking a risk on the uncapped Wasps scrum-half Martyn Wood or converting versatile wing Austin Healey.

Bracken, who understudied Dewi Morris at the 1995 World Cup, was philosophical about the latest blow to a Test career, which has seem him collect just 23 caps since making his debut when England beat New Zealand six years ago.

"I am obviously disappointed that I haven't been able to recover in time for the World Cup, and I respect the fact that Clive had a deadline," he said.

"Martyn is an excellent choice and I will be giving him and all the other players as much support as I can. I will continue to concentrate on returning to full fitness and playing for Saracens as soon as I can."

Leicester winger Leon Lloyd, called up to the squad this week as emergency cover, is also likely to get his chance in the absence of Rees.

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