England duo doubtful as Haskell row continues

Martin Johnson has confirmed that Simon Shaw and Delon Armitage are both unlikely to be fit for England's Calcutta Cup game with Scotland at Murrayfield on March 13.

Shaw damaged his shoulder just four minutes into England's 20-16 defeat to Ireland last weekend and Armitage was forced out of the action with rib cartilage damage.

"Delon's rib injury is difficult to call when he will be fit but he and Simon are progressing very well," said Johnson.

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"We will know more next week but it is likely, particularly Simon, that they will be ruled out.

"We would like black and white decisions about injuries but they are never black and white. Guys heal at different rates, particularly with ribs. It can be weeks, months or days."

If Shaw misses the trip to Murrayfield, Louis Deacon would be the logical replacement.

Ben Foden replaced Armitage at the weekend and would be in line for his first Test start against a Scotland side chasing their first victory of the championship.

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Rob Andrew, meanwhile, reiterated that England will not be releasing James Haskell to play for Stade Francais this weekend.

In doing so, England's elite rugby director shifted the spotlight of the club-versus-country row directly on to the player himself. Stade Francais are desperate for Haskell to be available for tomorrow's pivotal Top 14 game with Toulouse, for which they have sold 80,000 tickets.

IRB regulations give clubs first call on players in a non-international week and there is nothing in Haskell's club contract to over-ride that.

But Andrew refused to back down, arguing his decision is based on guarantees made by Haskell that he has a separate agreement in place with Stade Francais covering his release.

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"We have been given assurances by James and his advisers that he has an agreement with Stade that he can fulfil the release periods for England training," said Andrew.

"The position is between the player and the club. There is no issue here between the RFU and Stade Francais."