Hodgson fit to face All Blacks

Charlie Hodgson has been declared fit for England's Twickenham showdown with New Zealand on Saturday. [more]

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Charlie Hodgson has been declared fit for England’s Twickenham showdown with New Zealand on Saturday.

The Sale Sharks fly-half suffered a groin injury during last weekend’s 26-16 victory over Australia, giving the England camp a fitness scare.

But Hodgson has been named in an unchanged line-up as they prepare to tackle the world’s top-ranked team.

Had Hodgson failed to make it, then Bath’s Olly Barkley would have been the obvious replacement, but Barkley is now retained among the substitutes.

England head coach Andy Robinson will look for another power-packed display from his forwards after they demolished the Wallabies four days ago, but the world champions find themselves in an unfamiliar position of going into a Twickenham Test match as underdogs.

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Robinson also retained the same seven replacements on duty against Australia, including Wasps full-back Mark Van Gisbergen, who made his Test debut as a temporary replacement for Sale Sharks winger Mark Cueto.

"Charlie came through his first session and I’m pretty pleased with the progress he has made," said Robinson.

"He has been involved in the decision-making side of things and we are pretty happy he will be fully fit after Friday’s team run."

Robinson is under no illusion about the task which awaits his side at Twickenham and accepted they would have to improve on the Australia performance.

"We have got to step up in all areas. We have go to be more physical and when we get opportunities we have to take them," he told a press conference televised by Sky Sports News.

"We have got be more ruthless in our approach. We dropped off a number of one on one tackles in the game against Australia; against New Zealand they will take those.

"They pride themselves in scoring from turnovers and any turnovers we concede we will be on red alert.

"We have got to be in their faces. We have got to apply as much pressure as possible, physically and mentally."

England team to play New Zealand on November 19 at Twickenham:

J Lewsey (Wasps); M Cueto (Sale), J Noon (Newcastle), M Tindall (Gloucester), B Cohen (Northampton); C Hodgson (Sale), M Dawson (Wasps); A Sheridan (Sale), S Thompson (Northampton), P Vickery (Gloucester), S Borthwick (Bath), D Grewcock (Bath), P Sanderson (Worcester), L Moody (Leicester), M Corry (Leicester, capt).

Replacements: L Mears (Bath), M Stevens (Bath), L Deacon (Leicester), C Jones (Sale), H Ellis (Leicester), O Barkley (Bath), M Van Gisbergen (Wasps).

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