England’s preparations for the RBS 6 Nations continued to unravel with the news Owen Farrell will miss the entire Championship because of a knee injury.
Farrell sustained a high grade medial ligament strain in Saracens’ European Champions Cup defeat at Clermont on Sunday to further stretch Stuart Lancaster’s midfield resources.
The 23-year-old was expected to supply fly-half and inside centre cover in the opener against Wales in Cardiff on Friday week, but now faces another lengthy period of rehabilitation in a year troubled by injury.
His summer tour to New Zealand was cut short by a knee problem and he then lost his place during the autumn as his form suffered amid the lack of game that resulted from a thigh strain. “It’s a real shame for Owen that he sustained this injury and we wish him the best for his recovery,” head coach Lancaster said.
Farrell’s absence has opened the door for Danny Cipriani to claim a place on the bench against Wales with George Ford starting the Championship opener at the Millennium Stadium.
Cipriani is competing with Stephen Myler to supply cover for Ford and will have a week’s training at the squad’s Pennyhill Park training base to stake his claim for selection.
The medical bulletin issued on Tuesday was less conclusive on England’s other outstanding injury concerns amid reports that Brad Barritt will also miss the whole of the Six Nations with a knee problem. A possible replacement for Barritt is Kyle Eastmond, but the Bath inside centre is nursing a shoulder problem and is also a doubt for the opener in Cardiff.
Manu Tuilagi is expected to miss the entire championship with a groin condition while further doubts hang over lock Geoff Parling and flanker Tom Wood, who sustained respective knee and ankle injuries in a costly final round of Euro group action.
Lock Joe Launchbury and number eight Ben Morgan are out for the entire Six Nations, while second row Courtney Lawes is sidelined for part of it because of an ankle problem.
Meanwhile new Scotland call-up Hugh Blake has pleaded for the chance to show he is worthy of a Dark Blue jersey. The Edinburgh back-rower only stepped off a plane from his native New Zealand last month and has yet to even play for the capital club yet when Vern Cotter handed him a place in his squad for the RBS 6 Nations.
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