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Page last updated at 19:46 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Noon to replace injured Tindall

SIX NATIONS England v Italy
Date: Saturday, 7 February Kick-off: 1500 GMT Venue: Twickenham
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Red Button, Radio 5 Live and BBC Sport website

Mike Tindall
Tindall injured his back while working out in the gym

England have suffered another blow ahead of Saturday's Six Nations opener against Italy with Mike Tindall ruled out because of a back injury.

Newcastle Falcons' Jamie Noon, who was dropped to make way for the recalled Tindall, comes in at outside centre.

On Thursday scrum-half Danny Care was ruled out because of ankle ligament damage and was replaced by Harry Ellis.

England have also been badly hit by injury in the fly-half and open-side flanker positions.

With Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood injured and Danny Cipriani still searching for his best form after a rapid return from a serious leg injury, England will start with Andy Goode at fly-half.

It is a similar story at open-side flanker, with Steffon Armitage making his debut after injuries ruled out Tom Rees, Lewis Moody and Michael Lipman.

606: DEBATE
politedebate

Tindall injured his back during a weight training session on Thursday.

England boss Martin Johnson said: "We don't sit around thinking: 'Oh, we have lost x, y and z'. Guys get hurt and you move on with the next guy. They are good players.

"The statistics say that 25% of your squad will be injured at any one point so it will happen.

"But we are thinking about the game. We have been in camp for two weeks and we want to play."

Leicester's Ellis, 26, had been set to play for England Saxons against Ireland A at Donnybrook on Friday before being called up to replace Care and leapfrogging Ben Foden to go straight into the team.

He has won 22 England caps since making his Test debut against South Africa in 2004, the last coming in March 2007.

Andy Goode trained very well with us last week and he is an experienced player who has been around a long time

England manager Martin Johnson

Ellis returned from a six-week ban for the England Saxons against Portugal last week but the number nine insisted he would be ready for the rigours of Test rugby.

"The ban was just one of those things, it gave me an opportunity to work on my conditioning," Ellis told BBC Sport.

"Every cloud has a silver lining and I'm in good shape, I'm match fit and feeling refreshed."

Steffon and full-back Delon Armitage will become the first brothers to play in the same England team since 1995 - when the Underwoods, Rory and Tony, took to the field for Jack Rowell's side.

England's starting XV currently features five changes from the November defeat by New Zealand at Twickenham.

Mark Cueto is back on the wing for the first time since the 2007 World Cup final in place of the injured Ugo Monye, while Andrew Sheridan returns at loose-head.

Versatile Northampton back Foden is poised to make his debut off the bench.

Also on the bench is veteran Leicester prop Julian White, who replaced Matt Stevens in the elite squad when the Bath player failed a drugs test.

Goode, who played with Johnson at Leicester, last appeared for England in the 2006 November defeat by South Africa - Andy Robinson's last game in charge - but returns to the international stage in good form.

He is the leading points scorer in the French Top 14 this season, with 160 points in 16 games, having swapped Leicester for Brive during the summer.

He joined the England squad for last week's training camp in Portugal and his inclusion will mean the fly-half jersey changes hands for the sixth time in eight Tests.

"He is playing well. He trained very well with us last week and he is an experienced player, who has been around a long time," said Johnson. "Toby Flood had a bit of an injury last week.

"It was an easy call in the end; he can train all week with the team and he is an experienced player. All the guys are looking forward to playing with him."


England team:
D Armitage (London Irish); P Sackey (Wasps), J Noon (Newcastle), 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), S Armitage (London Irish), N Easter (Harlequins).

Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton), J White (Leicester), T Croft (Leicester), J Worsley (Wasps), B Foden (Northampton), S Geraghty (London Irish), M Tait (Sale Sharks).

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see also
England v Italy
06 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Review - 2008 Six Nations season
02 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Bergamasco handed scrum-half role
04 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Axed Cipriani starts for Saxons
04 Feb 09 |  English
Nervous wait for England's newest star
30 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union
Johnson targets England revival
29 Jan 09 |  English
Trio released from England squad
27 Jan 09 |  English
Armitage replaces injured Moody
26 Jan 09 |  English
Injured Moody out of Six Nations
23 Jan 09 |  English
Sibling rivalry spurs Armitage on
21 Jan 09 |  London Irish
Armitage tips brother for England
15 Jan 09 |  London Irish
Rees Six Nations blow for England
06 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union
Foden & Morgan get England calls
14 Jan 09 |  English


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