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Page last updated at 20:58 GMT, Thursday, 24 February 2011

Six Nations: Sheridan back for England but Moody absent

RBS Six Nations: England v France
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 26 February Kick-off: 1700 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC One, BBC HD channel, Red Button and BBC Sport website (also on BBC America); post-match forum 1900-1930; listen on BBC Radio 5 live & online; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

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Johnson dismisses anti-English remarks

England have key prop Andrew Sheridan back for Saturday's Six Nations tie against France but captain Lewis Moody is once again sidelined by injury.

Moody, 32, sat out England's first two championship games because of a knee injury before returning to action on Saturday for club side Bath.

The injury reportedly returned during training so Mike Tindall stays captain.

Sheridan is the only change from the starting XV that thrashed Italy, with Alex Corbisiero dropping to the bench.

Corbisiero made his debut last weekend when he came in for Sale front rower Sheridan, who was struggling with a back problem, on the loose-head for England, and the 22-year-old London Irish prop replaces the injured David Wilson on the bench.

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Moody had always targeted the France game for his return after ligament damage and he made a 23-minute cameo off the bench against Northampton last weekend.

But the flanker, capped 66 times by England, is not fit enough to feature in Martin Johnson's 22-man squad for Saturday's pivotal showdown at Twickenham.

England boss Johnson said Moody had done all he could to be available for the game dubbed 'Le Crunch'.

"He's our captain, we all know what he brings to the team and he's worked really hard to get back, everyone was confident but these things happen, unfortunately," said Johnson.

"He's disappointed, but we haven't had him so far and the other guys have done a good job, we're fully happy with James [Haskell] and Tom [Wood].

"It's a consistent team selection, there's lots of guys playing well in the Premiership and putting pressure on the team but we thought this was the right group to go with."

France have made it pretty clear they think if they win this one they'll win the lot but we're not looking beyond this game

England manager Martin Johnson

England and France are both unbeaten after two rounds of Six Nations action.

England began with a 26-19 win in Wales before crushing Italy 59-13 at Twickenham, while defending champions France defeated Scotland 34-21 in Paris before edging past Ireland 25-22 in Dublin.

And Johnson has dismissed any suggestion that the Twickenham contest is a Grand Slam decider.

"It doesn't annoy me, it's just factually incorrect," he added. "France have made it pretty clear they think if they win this one they'll win the lot but we're not looking beyond this game.

"But it is a big, big game and that's good. There are more people at these press conferences, there are comments in the media, it's got a bit of a tournament feel about it and that's good experience for the players.

"France's win in Dublin, coming from behind twice, was probably the performance of the championship so far.

"They are an all-round threat. Line-out drive, the scrum can squeeze you, good carriers, good speed. They can attack you in so many ways so we are looking for a big, big game."

France coach Marc Lievremont raised the temperature ahead of the match by suggesting that the other Six Nations countries wanted France to beat England.

He said on Monday: "We appreciate our Italian cousins with whom we share the same quality of life. We appreciate the Celts and their conviviality and then among all these nations we have one huge thing in common. We all don't like the English."

Confident Cueto ready for France

And Johnson responded: "I quite like it. It's international sport and so you back your country. I'm glad he's cleared up the Franco-Italian relationship but I think we knew how the Celts feel."

Visitors France have been forced into a late change as full-back Maxime Medard has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.

The 24-year-old Toulouse back pulled his left hamstring in training on Monday and although he said earlier on Thursday that he was "99%" sure of playing, he was ruled out after testing the injury on Thursday afternoon.

Medard had switched from the wing for the match but will now be replaced by his club-mate Clement Poitrenaud. Brive's Alexis Palisson has been called up to the bench.

"Maxime is suffering from discomfort in the hamstring of his left leg," said French press officer Lionel Rossigneux. "The doctor preferred not to take risks."

Medard had been moved to the 15 shirt in place of Poitrenaud when the France team was announced on Tuesday.

In other changes, number eight Sebastien Chabal, wing Vincent Clerc, scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili and centre Yannick Jauzion were all recalled.


England team to face France: Ben Foden (Northampton); Chris Ashton (Northampton), Mike Tindall (Gloucester, captain), Shontanye Hape (Bath), Mark Cueto (Sale); Toby Flood (Leicester), Ben Youngs (Leicester); Andrew Sheridan (Sale), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Dan Cole (Leicester), Louis Deacon (Leicester), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Tom Wood (Northampton), James Haskell (Stade Francais), Nick Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: Steve Thompson (Leeds), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Simon Shaw (Wasps), Hendre Fourie (Leeds), Danny Care (Harlequins), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon), Matt Banahan (Bath).

France: Clement Poitrenaud (Toulouse); Yoann Huget (Bayonne), Aurelien Rougerie (Clermont), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), Vincent Clerc (Toulouse); Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz); Thomas Domingo (Clermont), William Servat (Toulouse), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Julien Pierre (Clermont), Lionel Nallet (Racing-Metro), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse, captain), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz), Sebastien Chabal (Racing-Metro).
Replacements: Guilhem Guirado (Perpignan), Sylvain Marconnet (Biarritz), Jerome Thion (Biarritz), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont), Morgan Parra (Clermont), Damien Traille (Biarritz), Alexis Palisson (Brive)

Le Crunch: England v France best moments

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see also
England 17-9 France
26 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Ashton 'rewriting union wing play'
24 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
France make changes for England
22 Feb 11 |  English
Johnson laughs off Lievremont barb
21 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Lievremont hits out at 'English'
21 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
'Big boys' England await France
19 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
England-France is 'title decider'
14 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
England 59-13 Italy
12 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 22-25 France
13 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales 19-26 England
04 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
France 34-21 Scotland
05 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union


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