BAGSHOT, March 11 – England full-back Delon Armitage believes he has overcome a major hurdle ahead of Saturday's Six Nations clash away to Scotland just by seeing off the challenge to his place from Ben Foden.Armitage, England’s ‘find’ of last season, has been struggling for form following a shoulder injury that ruled him out of the November Test programme.
More recently, a rib problem has inhibited the London Irish favourite.
Even though he insists he’s fully fit, Armitage was preparing himself to be dropped by England manager Martin Johnson following the 20-16 loss to Ireland at Twickenham last time out.
Foden, who impressed off the bench against Ireland, has the potential to inject some much needed dynamism and creativity into England’s stagnating back division.
But Johnson’s tendency towards the conservative showed when he retained Armitage and kept Foden on the bench while recalling flanker Joe Worsley, England’s best defensive back-row, at the expense of Lewis Moody to play against a Scotland side yet to win a match in this season’s Six Nations.
Armitage though knows that if he is mediocre at Murrayfield, there will be every chance of Foden being handed a first Test start in England’s Six Nations finale away to France in Paris.
"It was a massive relief to be named in the team. I kind of expected not to be in it," Armitage said at England’s training base.
"I haven’t had the best Six Nations and after going off injured Ben came on and did a good job off the bench.
"For me to get another shot to try and get back to the form I showed last year is a good opportunity.
"But obviously I need to start showing something. Foden is right there behind, he’s been playing really well for his club, and the management and coaching set-up know he’s ready.
"I could almost say I’m on my last wheels, this is my last chance.
"I need to start showing some improvement because I think I just haven’t been playing well enough."
Armitage added: "I probably have been too impatient but I need to get into form as soon as possible because I don’t want give that 15 shirt up. I know Ben is right there.
"If I don’t show some improvement I think I’ll lose the shirt very soon. But I know there is a performance in me.
"I’m not going to be negative. I’m a confident player and I have a job to do for the boys."