Dylan Hartley has emerged as a doubt for England’s NatWest 6 Nations clash with France, while Jack Nowell and Sam Underhill have been ruled out of the trip to Paris.
Forwards coach Steve Borthwick has revealed that Hartley is struggling with muscle tightness in his leg, while Nowell and Underhill have been afflicted by respective ankle and toe injuries sustained in training over the weekend.
Hartley, England’s captain throughout Eddie Jones’ reign, is being monitored on a daily basis ahead of Thursday’s team announcement with Jamie George poised to start if he fails to recover and Owen Farrell the likely skipper.
The Northampton hooker is joined as a possible absentee for the penultimate round of the Six Nations by replacement tighthead prop Harry Williams, who is struggling with a neck injury.
“Dylan and Harry will be monitored on a daily basis and we’ll see how that progresses,” Borthwick said.
“Dylan trained yesterday (Monday) and felt a bit of tightness afterwards. He reported that and the decision of the medical team is to monitor it daily.
“It’s meant that Luke Cowan-Dickie was called up to the squad yesterday and trained fully this morning as cover.
“We have the two hookers in Dylan and Jamie and we need the third hooker as cover. And Kyle Sinckler is here as a tighthead prop as well as those are specialist positions so you need specialist cover.”
Nowell is also likely to miss the climax to the tournament against Ireland on Saturday week but Underhill could be back for the final instalment of England’s title defence.
“Jack Nowell rolled his ankle in training, the same ankle that he injured earlier on this season. He has returned to Exeter,” Borthwick said.
“It happened at the weekend and we did a further investigation late yesterday and a decision was made then.
“Sam took a knock to his big toe after someone trod on it. It’s flared up so he’s not in contention against France.
“He went back to his club this morning and that decision was made late last night as well after an investigation.
“It’s been great having Jack and Sam as part of the squad as they’re both excellent players who are great to have around the squad.
“We want them to recover from their injuries as quickly as possible. It’s unlikely that Jack will be fit for Ireland, but we hope Sam’s injury will calm down quickly.
“But, as we’ve seen in the past, whenever there are injuries there are opportunities and you can see players return quickly from injury like Sam Simmonds.”
Underhill’s place on the bench is likely to be filled by James Haskell while Elliot Daly, who has recovered from ankle and calf problem, plugs the gap created by Nowell’s injury.