England’s miserable week in New Zealand has got a lot worse with winger Delon Armitage now suspended for their quarter final with France.
England had already been embarrassed off the pitch with James Haskell, Dylan Hartley and Chris Ashton set to be severely reprimanded for their lewd comments towards a female hotel worker.
However, Armitage is the latest concern for Martin Johnson after the London Irish man was handed a one-match ban for a dangerous high tackle on Chris Paterson in England’s 16-12 victory against Scotland on Saturday.
England are narrow 4/7 favourites heading into the game and the loss of Armitage should make no difference to those odds, with Johnson having plenty of options out wide.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “It’s a shame to lose Delon as he has played well but these things happen and we have some quality wings in Mark Cueto and Matt Banahan to choose from.”
Johnson has also admitted concerns about the fitness of Jonny Wilkinson who had an inconclusive scan on an arm injury following the Scotland win.
Johnson added: “We’re hopeful but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. We still need another day to see where it’s going to go.”
If Wilkinson misses the France game it will be a massive blow to England, with the 2003 World Cup winner showing glimpses of his best form during the latter stages of the Scotland game.
With Mike Tindall also a doubt, France will fancy their chances of getting only their second win in six games against England at 6/4.