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Hooker Jack Singleton called up by England as injury cover

Luke Cowan-Dickie suffered a hamstring problem in the first Test.

England have summoned uncapped Worcester hooker Jack Singleton to join their tour of South Africa as injury cover for Luke Cowan-Dickie.

Cowan-Dickie suffered a hamstring problem during Saturday’s 42-39 defeat at Ellis Park to place him in doubt for the second Test against the Springboks in Bloemfontein.

The Exeter front row supplied back up to Jamie George in the series opener and if he is ruled out, Singleton will be promoted straight on to the bench.

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Luke Cowan-Dickie suffered a hamstring problem in the first Test (David Davies/PA)

“Luke has a tight hamstring so Jack Singleton is coming as a precaution,” defence coach Paul Gustard said.

“We’ve only got two hookers in camp so we have to be careful and have someone else coming over. Luke hasn’t been ruled out of Saturday yet.”

England were unable to provide a definitive update on Joe Launchbury, who sat out the first Test because of a calf injury.

Saracens pair Maro Itoje and Nick Isiekwe were the starting second rows in Johannesburg but the latter was the victim of a tactical substitution shortly before half-time to place his role in the remainder of the tour in doubt.

Uncapped Jonny Hill is the only other specialist lock in the squad with Brad Shields an option in the position if Launchbury is ruled out once again.

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Joe Launchbury was ruled out of the opening game of the series (Nigel French/PA)

England are reflecting on a pressure-building start to the series that saw a 21-point lead crumble as South Africa fought back to extend their losing run to five matches.

Among the flaws visible at Ellis Park was a frail defence that leaked five tries and Gustard – who takes up his new role as Harlequins head coach following the tour – accepts it was a poor display.

“We’re disappointed. We didn’t defend well. We were tight and our spacing was poor. I don’t coach that,” Gustard said.

“It’s not what the players want to do, we just didn’t deliver what we know we’re capable of. We’ll look to put that right this week.

“Overall we played some really good stuff. The first 20 minutes and last 20 were really good, the middle 40 were not so good.

“We lost composure. There’s a knock-on effect of things going against you, which you can’t quantify perhaps – the mental and energy drain that comes with losing momentum. And we need to correct that.

“But there are some real positives there. No team has gone to Ellis Park and taken apart South Africa with such conviction. It was a real fast start, so we’re pleased with that.

“Absolutely we can rescue the series. We lost by three points. The penalty count was 17 v four. There are lots of positives.

“I know we conceded five tries, but they conceded five as well. There’s still lots of opportunities left and we’re looking forward to putting our best foot forward on Saturday.”

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