Chris Ashton ruled out of England’s crunch Six Nations clash with Wales
Jack Nowell could take Ashton’s place for the Principality Stadium showdown.
England wing Chris Ashton will miss out on Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations title clash with Wales because of a calf injury.
Ashton started the 44-8 victory over France and completed 51 minutes until he was replaced by Jack Nowell, who is now favourite to fill the vacancy for the Principality Stadium showdown.
The Rugby Football Union revealed in a statement that the dual code international has a minor calf strain and will receive treatment at his club Sale Sharks.
He is expected to recover in time for the appointment with Italy in the penultimate round of the Six Nations.
It is understood that Ashton’s calf tightened up during training at the squad’s three-day camp in London, resulting in his omission from the 33-man squad named to step up preparations for Wales.
Wing has become a position of strength for England and they will be able to absorb his loss without too much fuss, even allowing for the 31-year-old’s formidable strike rate of 20 tries in 44 Tests.
Nowell is likely to start on the right wing to reclaim the jersey he lost to Ashton for France’s visit to Twickenham – despite having excelled when starting against Ireland a week earlier.
Joe Cokanasiga is among the 33 selected by Eddie Jones having continued his comeback from knee ligament damage with a try-scoring performance in Bath’s victory over Newcastle on Saturday.
It was the powerful wing’s first outing for over two months and – having proved his fitness – he is in contention for a role against Warren Gatland’s title rivals now that Ashton is unavailable, most likely in the role of impact substitute.
Also present in the training squad is Gloucester’s Ollie Thorley, although the uncapped rookie is a fringe contender.
The remote prospect of Maro Itoje facing the only other unbeaten side in the 2019 Six Nations has vanished after the Saracens lock was excluded from the extended squad that will assemble at England’s Surrey training base on Sunday afternoon.
Itoje was struck down by a knee injury against Ireland and, while Jones floated the possibility of him securing a bench spot against Wales, he will continue receiving treatment with a view to facing Italy.