England skipper backs Strettle's mettle

David Strettle has been backed to make a full recovery from his disastrous trip to South Africa.

David Strettle has been backed to make a full recovery from his disastrous trip to South Africa.

The Harlequins wing was arriving home today, following Gloucester pair Iain Balshaw, (shin injury), and Nick Wood, (torn chest muscle), who both left England's training base on Sunday.

Strettle spent several days in hospital last week for rehydration treatment after being laid low by a stomach virus that affected several England players.

Given the impact Strettle made during this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship, he had been expected to further already strong World Cup claims during both Tests against South Africa in Bloemfontein and Pretoria.

But his next England opportunity is now on hold until the World Cup warm-up appointments with Wales and France in August.

England skipper Jason Robinson has no doubt Strettle will soon be firing on all cylinders again.

Robinson said: "Despite his illness, he has been quite chirpy.

"It is obviously disappointing we've not had him out there playing because he is a great young player for us and I am sure the experience would have done him a great amount of good.

"He will go home disappointed. Given a bit of rest, he will be there or thereabouts come the next selection." On the plus side for England, fly-half Jonny Wilkinson trained yesterday after leaving first-Test venue Bloemfontein with a cut face and bruised lower back, while centre Andy Farrell and scrum-half Peter Richards, both virus victims, also featured.

But Robinson, (knee fluid), flanker Andy Hazell, (bruised knee), and wing James Simpson-Daniel, (ill), took no part in the session.

World champions England are preparing for another major Springboks examination following last Saturday's record 58-10 defeat.

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