England captain Lewis Moody has failed in his bid to regain fitness in time for this weekend's Six Nations crunch match with France as the war of words continues between the rival sides.
Moody came on as a replacement during Bath's victory over Northampton last weekend and was expected to earn a place among England's matchday squad at Twickenham on Saturday.
However, The Guardian and Daily Telegraph in the UK have reported on their websites that the Flanker has lost the race to be fit for the clash between the two unbeaten teams.
The Guardian reported that Moody's knee remained swollen following training with England, leaving management no choice but to rule him out.
With Moody missing out, England are expected to make only one change for the France clash, with loosehead Andrew Sheridan, a late withdrawal against Italy, returning at prop instead of Alex Corbisiero.
The match could decided the winner of the Six Nations with both sides unbeaten going into the clash.
Six Nations Grand Slam champions France have been talking up their underdog status and how much everybody dislikes the English.
France coach Marc Lievremont, like any good general, gave his troops the perfect lead by indulging in a long diatribe about the reasons for disliking the English, though, it was said with a smile on his face.
"Well we don't like them (the English), and it's better to say that than be hypocritical," he said.
"We have a bit of trouble with the English. We respect them, well in my case at least I respect them, but you couldn't say we have the slightest thing in common with them.
"We left Dublin last weekend with the encouragement of all the Irish who said 'for pity's sake, beat the English'."
However, if they thought this would get the English blood boiling they were to be sorely disappointed as England coach Martin Johnson dismissed Lievremont's tirade.
"If I read Marc's quotes correctly they respect us as a team," Johnson said
Johnson, who captained England to their 2003 World Cup victory which included a crushing semi-final win against an over-confident French side.
"There is enough history in this game and in the history of the two countries to spice it up," he said.
"People like to beat England. There is history involved with that and most of it is not rugby history."
Johnson's refusal to be drawn had the French coach in full retreat - something that the English will hope will be the case on Saturday for their opposing players.
"I had no intention of provoking them," Lievremont said.
"In fact I think it is a compliment for the English because I think they are proud of being different from the others."