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Page last updated at 07:11 GMT, Tuesday, 28 April 2009 08:11 UK

Johnson boost for Lions rejects

England manager Martin Johnson
Johnson led England to second in this year's Six Nations

England manager Martin Johnson says the summer series against Argentina will be the perfect chance for those on standby for the Lions to stay in contention.

Full-back Delon Armitage and flanker Tom Croft were surprise omissions from the Lions squad but could be called up when the inevitable injuries occur.

Johnson said: "I texted a few of the guys last week and reminded them that injuries happen on Lions tours.

"If there are injuries, the best place they can be is playing tough rugby."

England have eight players in the Lions squad to tour South Africa this summer, and Johnson is likely to turn to the likes of Jordan Turner-Hall and Chris Robshaw for the two Tests against Argentina.

England play the Pumas at Old Trafford on 6 June, before the return fixture in Salta, at the foothills of the Andes mountains in north-west Argentina, the following Saturday.

But two-time Lions skipper Johnson insists the Argentina series will not be experimental for England.

"This is not a development tour. We are there to win the Test matches. I don't want people to think it doesn't matter because it is a development tour. We will put out our best team available to win that Test match.

Maybe if I had not played in that game, I might have been on standby for the Lions or gone on the Argentina tour with England

Wasps wing Paul Sackey

"I get the vibe off some people - not within our party but around - that this is a development tour, it is under the radar. No it is not. It is England versus Argentina.

"We have won two Test matches on the trot [against France and Scotland in the final two rounds of the Six Nations] and we want to make that three the next time we play.

"There are spaces there that need to be filled. There will be some guys who obviously want to push into the senior group.

"Lewis Moody has been injured all year and he is now fit and there are a few others in that category as well."

Johnson added that no decision has yet been made as to whether Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani will be involved against the Pumas, or undergo the operation he needs to have a four-inch pin removed from his ankle.

The 21-year-old, who suffered a horrific fracture dislocation of his right ankle in May last year, could come into Lions contention should first-choice number 10s Stephen Jones and Ronan O'Gara get injured.


"Danny got the final game of the season out of the way and we will catch up with him again to find out where he is medically," added Johnson.

"He has got this metalwork in his ankle. There is a school of thought about getting it out but we will see."

One player who will not be involved for England or the Lions this summer is Wasps wing Paul Sackey, who has revealed that he broke his fibula in the opening stages of the match against Bristol on 19 April.

"I'm bitterly disappointed," said Sackey, who was making his comeback after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

"Maybe if I had not played in that game, I might have been on standby for the Lions or gone on the Argentina tour with England.

"But I take the view that everything happens for a reason. Maybe I need a break from rugby for a bit. Hopefully I will get back stronger, fitter and faster for next season."

England skipper Steve Borthwick
Borthwick's captaincy came under scrutiny during the Six Nations

Meanwhile, England skipper Steve Borthwick insists his commitment to the national side has not been diminished by his Lions snub.

The Saracens lock was left out of the initial 37-man squad and it appears that he has also been overlooked for the 30-strong standby list.

Each standby player is required to sign a contract, with Blues fly-half Nicky Robinson saying over the weekend that he is on the list, but Borthwick says he has had no contact with the Lions management.

"I have worked as hard as I possibly can to help my country be successful. With that I hoped to get selection for the British and Irish Lions," he said.

"It has not worked out like that. The selectors have decided not to select me. I was very disappointed but that is the selectors' view.

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see also
Referees named for Lions series
28 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Blues' Robinson on Lions standby
27 Apr 09 |  Welsh
Lions ponder O'Leary replacement
27 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions omissions shock De Villiers
23 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Backs give Boks edge - Du Plessis
23 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
O'Connell handed Lions captaincy
21 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Telfer worried by low Lions count
21 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Boks surprised by O'Connell pick
21 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Ferris is among 14 Ireland Lions
21 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Ryan Jones suffers shock omission
21 Apr 09 |  Welsh
Jeremy Guscott column
22 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Johnson can bring glory - Cueto
15 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
England must be fitter - Johnson
22 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union

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