England's Stevens fights for fitness for French clash

England prop Matt Stevens appears to be facing a fitness fight ahead of next weekend’s RBS 6 Nations Championship clash against France in Paris.

England prop Matt Stevens appears to be facing a fitness fight ahead of next weekend’s RBS 6 Nations Championship clash against France in Paris.

Stevens missed the Calcutta Cup defeat against Scotland last Saturday because of a shoulder injury, and was replaced in England’s starting line-up by Leicester tighthead Julian White.

The Bath forward had hoped to make his comeback in today’s Powergen Cup semi-final appointment with Llanelli Scarlets at the Millennium Stadium.

Bath coach Brian Ashton initially named Stevens in the starting XV, but he withdrew to be replaced by David Flatman.

England missed Stevens’ dynamic ball-carrying presence at Murrayfield, although boss Andy Robinson will remain hopeful he can recover in time to face the French.

There was an intriguing tactical switch, meanwhile, in the Leicester side for today’s opening semi-final against Wasps.

England captain Martin Corry had been expected to go head-to-head with his Test number eight rival and Wasps skipper Lawrence Dallaglio.

But Tigers switched Corry to blindside flanker, with Samoan international Henry Tuilagi handed a start at number eight.

Whether or not Corry’s move has an England connection remains to be seen, but it is a definite option for Robinson at Stade de France, with pressure mounting on the coach to start with Dallaglio following three successive Six Nations substitute appearances.

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