Anthony Watson is set to miss England’s next Six Nations match against Ireland as he continues to struggle with the calf injury that has prevented his participation in the championship over the opening two rounds.
The Bath back was slated to start England’s opener against France at full-back, only for the injury that he picked up before the tournament to rule him out of the trip to Paris and result in uncapped George Furbank making his debut.
Watson was subsequently sent back to Bath for treatment on his injury and missed the trip to Murrayfield for the 13-6 win over Scotland last Saturday, and after being left out of this week’s training camp in London, head coach Eddie Jones confirmed that Watson is unlikely to face the unbeaten Irish next weekend.
There were more positive updates on Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade, with the two centres brought back into camp this week to have their injuries assessed. Tuilagi suffered a groin strain in Paris that forced him off after quarter of an hour, while Slade is recovering from a fractured ankle sustained playing for Exeter last December.
“Manu is looking very good, very promising,” said Jones. “He should be in full training by the start of next week.
“Henry Slade ran today and we’ve yet to get a medical report. It’s definitely promising but too early to say whether he will be all right for Ireland or not.
“Anthony Watson is still a couple of weeks away.”
It means that the 25-year-old Watson will look to target England’s penultimate game in the Six Nations against Wales on 7 March for a possible return, and failure to meet that target could see him miss the entire championship, with only the final weekend trip to Italy remaining.
Victory over Ireland will keep England’s championship hopes alive, with Andy Farrell’s side in the running for the Grand Slam alongside France after winning their two opening fixtures against Scotland and Wales. But it will be the first time that Farrell has taken his side away from the Aviva Stadium after back-to-back games in Dublin, while England will be returning to Twickenham for the first time since their 57-15 record World Cup warm-up victory over the same side.
“Ireland are a good team, well coached, and we respect them a lot.” Jones added. “We’re looking forward to playing in front of our fans.”