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Page last updated at 18:05 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Steve Borthwick retained as England captain

England manager Martin Johnson and Steve Borthwick
Johnson and Borthwick came in for criticism during the November Tests

Steve Borthwick will be England's captain going into the RBS Six Nations.

The Saracens lock has been skipper in every game since Martin Johnson took over as England manager in 2008.

Johnson initially named his Six Nations squad without a captain but has now decided on Borthwick, despite criticism of the player's performances.

England, who open their Six Nations campaign against Wales at Twickenham on 6 February, are expected to name their side on Tuesday, 2 February.

England, who are currently in Portugal to begin their Six Nations preparations, have won only six of their 14 matches since Borthwick was appointed captain.

Yet Johnson has decided to stick with Borthwick for the time being, although he may make a change during the tournament.

Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths says the retention of Borthwick is a good move, describing the 30-year-old as an "absolutely outstanding character and an outstanding captain for England".

"Within the club there is a general sense of bewilderment with the criticism that Steve sometimes gets at international level," Griffiths told BBC Radio 5 live.

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"He is massively admired, not only on the field where his form has been brilliant this year, where the number of contributions during a game is far greater than any other member of the team, but also away from the field.

"You won't meet a more dedicated, serious, conscientious and committed rugby player.

"I have been knocking around the top end of rugby for 20-25 years and Steve is one of a handful.

"He does get criticism. Why? Because the team has not been doing well on the field and it's natural that when a team doesn't do well the captain tends to cop some of the flak.

"But as England's results improve, and we all hope they will, he will start to be properly appreciated at international level."

Meanwhile, England blind-side flanker James Haskell is waiting for the results of a scan on a knee injury he sustained at the weekend while playing for club side Stade Francais.

Five players have been called up as injury cover, with Worcester loose-head prop Matt Mullan and Leicester tight-head Dan Cole replacing Andrew Sheridan and Julian White respectively.

Sheridan is still out of action after suffering a dislocated shoulder, while White is only just returning from a torn hamstring injury.

At least one of the 22-year-old front-rowers, who have been selected ahead of the more experienced David Flatman and Duncan Bell, are likely be named in the match-day squad for the opening game against Wales.

Wasps loose-head Tim Payne and Bath tight-head David Wilson are the other props in the squad.

Wasps number eight Dan Ward-Smith and Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw are cover for Tom Croft and Joe Worsley respectively, while scrum-half Ben Youngs fills in for Leicester team-mate Harry Ellis.

Youngs will return to the England Saxons squad on Tuesday to prepare for Sunday's game against Ireland A.

Ward-Smith was poised to make his international debut in the 2007 Six Nations, only to dislocate his knee playing for Bristol a week before England met Scotland.



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see also
Easter backs Borthwick as captain
20 Jan 10 |  English
Ashton & Hape earn England calls
13 Jan 10 |  English
England matches to be shown in 3D
12 Jan 10 |  English
Jeremy Guscott Q&A
11 Jan 10 |  Rugby Union
Vickery set to miss Six Nations
08 Jan 10 |  English
Foden 'livid' at England omission
22 Nov 09 |  Northampton
Injury-hit England make changes
26 Oct 09 |  Rugby Union
England 6-19 New Zealand
21 Nov 09 |  English
England 16-9 Argentina
14 Nov 09 |  English
England 9-18 Australia
07 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union


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