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England look set to receive two huge fitness boosts ahead of their World Cup semi-final with France this weekend.

Talisman Jonny Wilkinson has shaken off an arm injury and should be selected ahead of Toby Flood for Saturday’s showdown, despite the latter starring when coming off the bench in that tense win over the Scots.

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Centre Mike Tindall is making good progress from his leg injury and expects to be fit with Flood standing by in case Tindall fails to recover. There are not expected to be any changes in the pack.

As a result, it is likely that there’ll only be one change, with Mark Cueto coming in on the left wing to replace the suspended Delon Armitage.

Facing Wilkinson will, of course, give France a nightmare or two and despite not being at his ruthless best in the tournament so far, coach Martin Johnson will stick with the man who inspired England to victories over the French in the last two World Cup semi-finals.

In Austraila in 2003, Wilkinson kicked all 24 points, while four years later in Paris, he scored a late penalty and drop-goal as England came from behind to eliminate the hosts.

Meanwhile, Les Bleus have already announced the makeup of their side, making two changes from the team that suffered a shock defeat to Tonga last weekend.

Coach Marc Lievremont has resisted making wholesale changes following the surprise 19-14 loss but Nicolas Mas will replace Luc Ducalcon at tighthead prop, while number eight Imanol Harinordoquy starts ahead of Raphael Lakafia.

There is no place in the matchday 22 for Ducalcon or Lakafia, and centre Fabrice Estebanez is suspended.

The action kicks off at 08:30 BST this Saturday and while both teams have not exactly been at their free-flowing best so far, it promises to be a fascinating encounter.

In terms of a prediction, let’s go for a low-scoring match with England just shading it. Again.

Bobby James

As well as being the Editor in Chief of SqueakyBumTime, Bobby is also a Swansea City fan (before they reached the promised land).

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