Flanker Tom Wood gives England cause for concern ahead of Wales clash
England face the prospect of fielding a rookie back row against a feared all-Lions Wales trio after Tom Wood became a doubt for Saturday's trip to Cardiff because of a shoulder problem.
Wood has been unable to train this week due to the injury sustained in the 19-16 victory over France and while he is currently present among the forwards retained for the Principality Stadium showdown, his fitness is not assured.
The Northampton flanker's place in the starting XV was already under threat, however, following an ineffective display against Les Bleus.
If Wood is forced to withdraw, Jack Clifford is the likely starter at openside, with Maro Itoje and Nathan Hughes continuing at blindside and number eight respectively.
That scenario would mean England's trio would possess only four international back-row starts between them, a paltry number compared to the 147 held by Wales' Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric and Toby Faletau.
Faletau is still recovering from a knee complaint, however, and may be confined to a spot among the replacements for the RBS 6 Nations tussle.
Hughes' own fitness is clouded by a knee issue, but with England's back-row resources now running alarmingly low, his involvement against Rob Howley's title pretenders is not in doubt.
England are likely to be without Chris Robshaw and Billy Vunipola for the entire championship, leaving a void in the midst of one of their best performing units under Eddie Jones.
James Haskell has returned to fitness after a seven-month lay-off because of toe surgery, but Jones insists his lack of game time means his contribution will be limited to another 25-minute cameo off the bench.
The indications from Tuesday afternoon's training session were that Jonny May would make way for Jack Nowell on the right wing in a straight swap of duties from the France win.
Henry Slade is among the 24 players retained by Jones, in an updated squad announced by team management, and is likely to remain with England as travelling reserve.
Forwards: J Clifford (Harlequins), D Cole (Leicester), J George (Saracens), D Hartley (Northampton), J Haskell (Wasps), N Hughes (Wasps), M Itoje (Saracens), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), J Marler (Harlequins), M Mullan (Wasps), K Sinckler (Harlequins), T Wood (Northampton)
Backs: M Brown (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), E Daly (Wasps), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Bath), J Joseph (Bath), J May (Gloucester), J Nowell (Exeter), H Slade (Exeter), B Te'o (Worcester), B Youngs (Leicester)