England set to sweat on Farrell fitness
February 26, 2013
Owen Farrell limped out of England's Six Nations victory over France last weekend © PA Photos
England are hopeful that fly-half Owen Farrell will be fit for their forthcoming Six Nations clash with Italy but have opted against releasing fellow No.10 Toby Flood for Aviva Premiership duty this weekend.
Farrell limped off during the second-half of England's clash with France on Saturday with Flood stepping in to steer the hosts to a 23-13 victory. Head coach Stuart Lancaster has revealed that Farrell is suffering from a thigh problem with Flood set to remain with the bulk of the squad at their training base at Pennyhill Park in case he is required to start against the Azzurri on March 10.
"Owen is still recovering from his tight quad muscle and probably won't train this week, but we are fortunate to have Toby who came on and did well against France," Lancaster said in a statement. Farrell will continue his recovery in-camp alongside back rows Ben Morgan and Billy Vunipola, who are nursing ankle complaints, and knee injury-victim Alex Corbisiero.
"This week is partly about recharging our batteries after a tough Test match but we trained well today and are in pretty good shape," added Lancaster, who has released 10 players back to their clubs including hooker Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes who both started against France but now appear unlikely to retain their places in the line-up.
Scrum-half Lee Dickson, fullback Ben Foden will join Hartley back at Northampton, while wing David Strettle and centre Joel Tomkins will return to Saracens. Wasps back row James Haskell, Worcester flanker Matt Kvesic, Bath prop David Wilson and Leicester No.8 Thomas Waldrom have also been released to their clubs.
Strettle's release leaves only two recognised wingers in Chris Ashton and Mike Brown among the 21 players set to train this week. As a result, it appears Ashton will keep his place in the side despite a poor showing against France where his defensive shortcomings and indiscipline were suspect.
Italy have named an unchanged 30-man squad for their remaining Six Nations matches against England and Ireland.
Released players: Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (London Wasps), Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), David Strettle (Saracens), Joel Tomkins (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath Rugby), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery