Brad Barritt and Luther Burrell are England’s latest injury concerns, handing head coach Stuart Lancaster a serious shortage at centre ahead of next weekend’s Six Nations opener in Cardiff.
Saracens centre Barritt is battling a knee injury while midfielder Burrell suffered a concussion in Northampton’s chastening 32-8 weekend loss at Racing Metro.
The England squad convened at Pennyhill Park last night, with Jonathan Joseph and Billy Twelvetrees the only fit centres.
Leicester wrecking ball Manu Tuilagi has been omitted from England’s training squad and may miss the entire Six Nations as he continues to fight back from groin injury.
England retain the hope Burrell will return to training on Friday, while Barritt’s knee, Kyle Eastmond’s shoulder and Owen Farrell’s knee require further assessment.
“The players will be fully assessed once they get into camp (last night) and it’s too early to give any definitive news on their status,” said head coach Lancaster.
“Owen’s (Farrell) knee has been scanned. Owen will see a specialist and we will be able to provide an update on him and the other injury players (today), along with any other potential additions to the squad.”
England boss Lancaster has said it would be a “big, big ask” for rugby league convert Sam Burgess to feature in the Six Nations.
The big-money Bath recruit starts his Rugby World Cup fast-tracking in England Saxons’ Friday night clash against the Irish Wolfhounds in Cork.
Any more midfield injuries however, and the 26-year-old could find himself elevated to the senior squad by default.
“Sam is certainly more than capable, his performance against Wasps at The Rec suggests he’s more than capable of playing international rugby,” said Saxons head coach Jon Callard of Burgess.
“We’ll know probably a little more after Friday night.
“I would have thought if I was a betting man, the seniors would want him to start (against the Irish Wolfhounds).
“The challenge for us is to get the best out of him, and all the other players as well.
“We’ve got to give them that opportunity to show what they can do.
“I think Bath have handled him beautifully: they’ve given him the experience, slowly put him into a European Cup situation, and given him that.”