Surgery sidelines Forrester

By Ben Blackmore.   Last Updated: 31/10/06 1:30pm

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International match, Twickenham, Sunday November 5, 3.30pm

England and Gloucester forward James Forrester has been cruelly ruled out of the autumn international schedule by a knee injury.

The in-form back row was knocking on the door of England's first team for November clashes with New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa, but he will now have surgery to correct a torn cartilage.

News of Forrester's absence will come as a big blow to club and country after a fine start to the season, building on his European Challenge Cup-winning try at the end of the previous campaign.

"James has been one of our standout performers so far this season and is capable of becoming an international-quality forward," said Gloucester coach Dean Ryan.

"This injury is obviously devastating news for him, Gloucester and England."

As a result, England boss Andy Robinson has looked outside of his 30-man squad for three additions ahead of Twickenham's New Zealand encounter.

Bristol's Dan Ward-Smith is joined by Wasps' Mark van Gisbergen and Castres' Phil Christophers in the squad, as Robinson extends his options ahead of Sunday.

With the likes of Josh Lewsey, Steve Borthwick, Mathew Tait, Olly Barkley and Mike Tindall sidelined by injury, Robinson has yet to confirm his replacements bench.

As a result, Anthony Allen and Shaun Perry will both debut against the All Blacks this weekend, while the uncapped Ward-Smith could find himself in the matchday 22.

Van Gisbergen has only recently returned from injury to play for Wasps, while Christophers has been exiled from international rugby since the early stages of Sir Clive Woodwards' time in charge.