England to make final tilt at grand slam without Tindall

England manager Martin Johnson is expected to confirm captain Mike Tindall will miss the grand slam showdown with Ireland when he names his team today.

Otley-born Tindall suffered an ankle ligament strain in England’s 22-16 victory over Scotland last weekend and is understood to have been ruled out after undergoing an MRI scan and visiting a specialist.

Matt Banahan is set to fill Tindall’s boots at outside centre – only his second Test start in the position – with Nick Easter likely to take over as captain.

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The Harlequins No 8 captained England for the first time in a Test match against Samoa in the autumn.

But Johnson is otherwise set to keep changes to a minimum. With Banahan starting, the England manager will have used only 17 starting players in the championship.

Leicester flanker Tom Croft is expected to remain among the replacements despite marking his comeback from a fractured shoulder with a try-scoring appearance off the bench against Scotland.

That would keep Leeds Carnegie’s Hendre Fourie out of the squad.

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There is no room for Courtney Lawes, who will have to wait until the World Cup warm-up Tests to make his England return as he continues his comeback from a knee ligament injury.

Banahan, who replaced Tindall against Scotland, is a converted lock forward who won his first five England caps on the wing before starting the victory over Samoa at outside centre.

England’s options to fill the vacant back’s position on the bench are Saracens wing and former Rotherham player David Strettle and Wasps centre Riki Flutey, while Delon Armitage will be available after his eight-week ban for pushing an anti-doping officer expired overnight.

England manager Johnson has acknowledged that World Cup organisers have made the correct decision in moving matches away from Christchurch.

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Johnson’s side were due to be based in the earthquake-hit city, which had been set to stage seven matches, including two of England’s pool matches and one of Scotland’s.

The two quarter-finals scheduled for Christchurch have been moved to Auckland. but England are still waiting on a decision from tournament officials about where the pool matches against Argentina and Georgia will be staged.

Leeds Carnegie have revealed that James Tincknell has left intensive care. The 22-year-old was involved in a car accident in late February, and is said to be making progress.