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Farrell faces week on sidelines

England fly-half Owen Farrell is unlikely to train this week as he continues his rehabilitation from the thigh problem sustained in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations victory over France.

Farrell, whose kicking was increasingly restricted by the injury, was replaced in the second half of the 23-13 win at Twickenham by Toby Flood. It is hoped the 21-year-old will be able to resume training next week when England continue preparations for the penultimate hurdle of their Grand Slam quest against Italy on March 10.

"Owen is still recovering from his tight quad muscle and probably won't train this week, but we are fortunate to have Toby who came on and did well against France," said England head coach Stuart Lancaster.

Farrell will continue his recovery alongside back rows Ben Morgan and Billy Vunipola, who are nursing ankle complaints, and knee injury-victim Alex Corbisiero.

"This week is partly about recharging our batteries after a tough Test match but we trained well today and are in pretty good shape," Lancaster said.

Hooker Dylan Hartley is one of 10 players to have been released back to their clubs for the weekend's Aviva Premiership action.

Scrum-half Lee Dickson, full-back Ben Foden and lock Courtney Lawes will join Hartley back at Northampton, while wing David Strettle and centre Joel Tomkins will return to Saracens.

Wasps back row James Haskell, Worcester flanker Matt Kvesic, Bath prop David Wilson and Leicester number eight Thomas Waldrom have also been released to their clubs.

Of the 10, only Hartley and Lawes started against France with the former outshone by his replacement Tom Youngs and the experiment of moving the latter to blindside flanker producing disappointing results.

Strettle's release leaves only two recognised wingers in Chris Ashton and Mike Brown among the 21 still with England. Ashton was poor against France, with his defence particularly suspect, but Lancaster's decision to rest him this weekend points to his re-selection against Italy.


From Belfast Telegraph