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Cole could be England's only change


Alex Corbisiero has been ruled out of England's match with New Zealand due to a knee injury

Alex Corbisiero has been ruled out of England's match with New Zealand due to a knee injury

Alex Corbisiero has been ruled out of England's match with New Zealand due to a knee injury

England head coach Stuart Lancaster is set to name a virtually identical XV against New Zealand after a trio of injuries restricted his scope to make changes

The loss of prop Alex Corbisiero and wings Marland Yarde and Christian Wade to the treatment room for the final QBE International at Twickenham has robbed Lancaster of three potential starters.

Corbisiero was earmarked for loosehead prop after playing the second half of the 31-12 victory over Argentina only for his knee injury to flare up.

Joe Marler will continue in the number one jersey if, as expected, he completes his recovery from concussion with Matt Mullan deputising on the bench.

The absence of Mako Vunipola with a knee complaint has forced Lancaster to turn to his fourth choice in the position in Mullan, the Wasps forward who won his only cap as a replacement in the 2010 RBS 6 Nations.

The only change to the starting XV envisaged when Lancaster names his team to face the world champions on Thursday morning is the likely return of Dan Cole at tighthead prop.

Having started the 20-13 victory over Australia, Cole was replaced by David Wilson against Argentina a week later and the duo look set to swap places once again.

Dylan Hartley's man of the match turn against the Pumas appears to have ended any debate at hooker - for this match at least.

Hartley is competing with Tom Youngs for the number two jersey, but forwards coach Graham Rowntree suggests his display of power at Twickenham has placed him on course to win his 50th cap against New Zealand.

"I was delighted for Dylan. That was one of his best performances in an England shirt. He took his chance," Rowntree said.

"With the emergence of Tom Youngs he's not had a huge amount of game time over the last year. He took his chance very well."

With Yarde and Wade ruled out of contention with respective hip and hamstring problems, Chris Ashton and Ben Foden will retain their places on the wings amid an unchanged backline.

Ashton scored a try against Argentina, but he failed to finish an earlier opportunity and his place was under the greatest threat as he continues to struggle for form.

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A third change on the bench will see scrum-half Ben Youngs replace Danny Care after overcoming a hip problem.

New Zealand are seeking to complete their 13th victory in 13 Tests this year and avenge their only defeat in 33 games - last autumn's record 38-21 loss at Twickenham.

The All Blacks are hell-bent on revenge, but Rowntree welcomes the challenge of facing the World Cup-holders and becoming only the second England team to register successive victories in the fixture.

"Last year was a famous victory for us and the game at the weekend is a great challenge for this group of players," Rowntree said.

"It's exactly what we need at this point in time. The lads are super excited about it and looking forward to it.

"We respect their record, but we'll be going full out to spoil it.

"We'll have to go to new levels this weekend. We've shown glimpses of being able to do that.

"We won't be daunted. This is Twickenham, our stadium. We have lots to prove.

"If you can't get yourselves up for opposition like this, you'd never get up for a game in your life. They'll be up for it."

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