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Lancaster has anxious wait

England's interim coach Stuart Lancaster faces an anxious weekend on injury watch after releasing 18 of his players back to their clubs.

Lancaster is already facing concerns over Courtney Lawes, who was sent for a scan on a shin-splint complaint while fly-half Owen Farrell and wing Chris Ashton have both been hit by a sickness bug.

Farrell was one of six players who did not train at England's Loughborough base on Wednesday, along with Lawes, Joe Marler, Jordan Turner-Hall, Mike Brown and Calum Clarke.

Lancaster was frustrated that International Rugby Board regulations forced him to send number eight Ben Morgan back to the Scarlets for Friday night's RaboDirect PRO12 game against Connacht.

But he voluntarily released the other 17, including fly-halves Charlie Hodgson and Toby Flood who are competing for a place in England's 22 to face France a week on Sunday.

All selection decisions for 'Le Crunch' will have to be put on hold until after this weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership, PRO12 and French Top 14.

"Clearly there are selection decisions going into the game against France - and there are now 18 players going back to their clubs, so we might have some other selection decisions to make on the back of what happens this weekend," Lancaster said.

"We're not obliged to release any players back. From my point of view we want the boys to go back and play. In order to play international rugby you've got to be in form, you've got to be playing well and to do that you've got to be playing rugby.

"There are some massive games this weekend."

Morgan is the only member of the starting XV from last weekend's defeat to Wales who has been released for club duty, following a request from the Scarlets under IRB regulation nine.


From Belfast Telegraph