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Itoje runs out of time in his battle to recover for England's big finale

By Duncan Bech

Maro Itoje has conceded defeat in his battle to be fit for the climax to England's Guinness Six Nations against Scotland on Saturday.

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Itoje last week suffered a setback in his recovery from the knee injury sustained against Ireland on the opening weekend and has now been omitted from a 31-man training squad named for the final-round fixture at Twickenham.

Defence coach John Mitchell, who was unable to provide a date for his return, said: "Maro's a class player, but his health comes first and that's the most important thing."

Head coach Eddie Jones was non-committal when asked about Itoje's condition in the wake of Saturday's rout of Italy, declaring "we'll just wait and see", but the second-row's Championship is now definitively over with only 53 minutes played.

It was hoped he would return to face the Azzurri only to re-injure the same knee that was damaged in Dublin when taking part in a forwards drill at the squad's Surrey base.

Bizarrely, Jones raised the prospect of the British and Irish Lion being propelled back into the matchday 23 against Italy soon after he had been left out, stating that he could make a rapid recovery.

While the loss of Itoje is a blow, England can at least take heart from the performance of George Kruis at Twickenham on Saturday.

Jones singled out Kruis as his man of the match on the grounds of his work rate and the 29-year-old is set to continue his second row partnership with Joe Launchbury against the Scots.

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