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Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Tuesday, 18 January 2011

England's Lewis Moody may miss three Six Nations games

Lewis Moody
Moody, 32, has led England since the end of last year's Six Nations tournament

Captain Lewis Moody is likely to miss England's first three Six Nations matches after Bath ruled him out for up to six weeks with a knee injury.

Moody limped off in their Heineken Cup win over Aironi, although he initially thought the knock was not too serious.

England face Wales in Cardiff on 4 February before home games with Italy (12 February) and France (26 February).

They are already without lock Courtney Lawes and flanker Tom Croft for most, if not all, of the tournament.

Moody's absence leaves manager Martin Johnson looking for a new captain, with experienced centre Mike Tindall and number eight Nick Easter the most likely candidates to take over.

It's always disappointing to lose a player and leader of Lewis' calibre. But good teams adapt to injuries and that is what we intend to do

England manager Martin Johnson

Bath confirmed on Tuesday - three days after Moody twisted his knee - that he had suffered an injury to the medial collateral ligament.

"Lewis took a knock to his knee at the weekend, which is slightly more serious than first thought," said head coach Steve Meehan.

"It is frustrating for us to lose him at this stage in the season, but it does mean that other players in the squad get the opportunity to come on in his place and show us what they can do.

"We will of course make sure he receives the best medical attention to get him back on the field as and when he's ready."

Sixty-six cap Moody will definitely miss England's first two matches against Wales and Italy, and is unlikely to be ready for the game against France.

England manager Martin Johnson said: "It is always disappointing to lose a player and leader of Lewis' calibre.

"But, as I have consistently said, good teams adapt to injuries and that is what we intend to do. While this could still mean Lewis plays a role in the Six Nations, it does mean that another player gets the chance to step up and make it hard for him to get the shirt back."

Ben W

A new captain will be named in the week leading up to the team's first Six Nations match against Wales.

Easter led England for the first time in a Test against Samoa last November and has also led them twice in non-cap matches against the Barbarians, first in 2008 and again at Twickenham last May before the summer tour to Australia.

The Harlequins forward would relish resuming the role should Johnson turn to him.

"Captaining England is a massive honour and I have enjoyed doing it in the past, so of course, if the opportunity came along, I would take it with both hands," he said.

Moody has been England's regular captain since the final game of last year's Six Nations against France, when he took over from Steve Borthwick.

Of the elite squad Johnson announced last week, Hendrie Fourie of Leeds is the only other recognised open-side flanker.

But Joe Worsley has also been used there before, most notably in Cardiff two years ago when he performed a successful defensive job on Wales centre Jamie Roberts.

Northampton's Tom Wood and Steffon Armitage of London Irish are possible candidates for promotion from the Saxons squad with Johnson already mulling temporary replacements for Lawes and Croft.

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see also
Bath 55-16 Aironi Rugby
15 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Hodgson & Deacon in England squad
12 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Lawes 'could play in Six Nations'
12 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Croft likely to miss Six Nations
23 Dec 10 |  Rugby Union
Moody wants more England momentum
26 Nov 10 |  English
Moody takes over from Borthwick
19 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
England 35-26 Barbarians
30 May 10 |  Rugby Union
Wales 23-15 England
14 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union

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