England suffer Barritt blow
England are set to name an unchanged midfield for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Scotland at Twickenham after Brad Barritt was ruled out of the final two matches of the Championship.
Barritt was challenging for Luther Burrell's place at inside centre only for an ankle sprain incurred during Saracens' victory at Wasps on Sunday to prevent him from facing the Scots or France seven days later.
It is a cruel blow to Barritt, the bloodied hero of England's autumn victory over Australia whose season has since been blighted by calf and knee complaints, but it enables Burrell to continue operating as the battering ram in the backline.
Burrell was a doubt himself after suffering a calf injury in the 19-9 defeat by Ireland but is due to resume training on Tuesday as head coach Stuart Lancaster finalises his team selection for winless Scotland.
The only change to the backline that started in Dublin will see Mike Brown restored at full-back after completing his recovery from concussion, forcing Alex Goode to drop out of the 23.
Emerging prospect Henry Slade has been called into the training squad as midfield cover, while Sam Burgess will join the squad at Pennyhill Park to continue his union education.
"Brad has what's being described as a high ankle sprain and will be out for the last two games for definite, but Luther has made good progress and will hopefully be fit to train on Tuesday," Lancaster said.
"Brad was in contention because he played so well for us during the autumn."
Prop Henry Thomas sustained a knee injury while on duty for Bath over the weekend and is out against Scotland and France, but his loss is alleviated by the imminent return to training of Kieran Brookes.
Lancaster has confirmed that Northampton forwards Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood are under consideration for the penultimate round of the Six Nations having proved their fitness for Saints in recent weeks after being struck down by ankle injuries.
Lawes is likely to replace George Kruis in the second row when the team is announced on Wednesday afternoon while Wood is destined for a place on the bench after Tom Croft dislocated his shoulder on club duty for Leicester.
The build up to England's bid to reignite their title challenge has been animated by an unlikely verbal attack from Scotland's British and Irish Lions full-back Stuart Hogg.
Hogg claims that England have "no respect" for Scottish rugby and are "all about themselves", an allegation Lancaster is keen to deny.
"I did read the comments and I think he was referencing some club games," said Lancaster, who represented Scotland at Under 19 and 21 levels.
"Certainly from my point of view one of the best performances I have seen all season was the Glasgow performance against Bath.
"You don't get a team who are top of the PRO12 by accident so they've clearly got a lot of good players in their team. A lot of those Glasgow players are playing for Scotland.
"Having represented Scotland, I have plenty of respect for the players and what they have achieved.
"I can't control what other people say. From my point of view, we have a healthy regard for their team, their players and their coaching team."