Jonathan Joseph will be hurried back into England's midfield for the do-or-die showdown with Australia on Saturday, with Sam Burgess sacrificed to create space for his Bath teammate.

There had been fears that Joseph's chest injury, suffered in the World Cup opener against Fiji, might keep him out for the rest of the pool stage but it's understood he has made a rapid recovery.

England were criticised for failing to capitalise on their first-half dominance against Wales and have responded with another reshuffle of their centres in search of more creativity.

Owen Farrell will keep his place at fly-half - meaning another replacement stint for George Ford - but Burgess is destined to be demoted to the bench when Stuart Lancaster announces his latest line-up tomorrow.


It is a somewhat harsh fate for the giant cross-coder, with Brad Barritt shifting back to inside centre and Joseph recalled at No 13. There are set to be further changes.

With Courtney Lawes thought to be out of contention with a knee injury, Joe Launchbury will take his place in the second row alongside Geoff Parling. In the back row, Ben Morgan has recovered from a knee problem and will be cleared to resume at No 8 in place of Billy Vunipola, who is out of the tournament.

Ben Youngs was not involved at the start of afternoon training yesterday but it is understood that the Leicester scrum-half - one of the best English performers in the defeat against Wales - will start, provided he comes through a late fitness test.

Joseph was also absent from the afternoon session. He was briefly seen watching from an upstairs window in the indoor training centre, only to vanish when spotted.

There were other interested observers as Lancaster's squad stepped up their preparations to face Australia.

Former England flanker Richard Hill was in attendance and spent some time talking to 2003 World Cup final teammate Mike Catt, the team's attacking skills coach. RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie was also there, viewing proceedings with a clear sense of what is at stake in a game that could end the national team's campaign.

Barritt is perhaps fortunate to have kept a place in the starting XV after following a poor display against Fiji with a rare defensive aberration that allowed Wales to score their decisive late try. His centre partnership with Joseph is the one the coaches had in mind as their preferred option for the tournament but the pair have started together only once before, in that Fiji game, and never with Farrell at 10.

At this crucial juncture, England are fielding new combinations, which is far from ideal.
That was certainly the view of former captain Mike Tindall, who said: "Again there is this question of consistency in selection - how are people going to bed into the team and find a rhythm if they are in, out, in, out, shake it all about?"


Yet, Catt was adamant that any number of possible midfield combinations can be selected and England are capable of playing the same way, without missing a beat.

"The beauty of the squad is that whether you pick a Henry Slade or a Burgess, a Barritt or a Joseph - whichever way we go - we feel comfortable these players can do what did over the Six Nations and score tries," he said.

"Whoever we pick, we have confidence they can execute the same game plan. With defences the way they are, you've got to pick people who can play both ways. You've got to get the balance right depending on who you play against. Sometimes you've got to go through the line, sometimes you've got to go around it. We like to think we've got the ability to do both, whoever we pick."

Catt said having Joseph back in the side would be a "massive boost". He also suggested that there was a tendency for people to 'under- estimate what Brad Barritt does for the team'. In both cases, there will be a chance for further judgment on Saturday.

-Daily Mail