England suffer Nowell and Underhill blow ahead of France clash, Hartley in doubt

England captain Dylan Hartley is an injury doubt for the France match
England captain Dylan Hartley is an injury doubt for the France match

England have been plagued with injury concerns ahead of their upcoming Six Nations clash against France with skipper Dylan Hartley joining the injury list.

Hartley suffered stiffness in his leg and forwards coach Steve Borthwick said the Northampton Saints hooker will be assessed on a daily basis.

In the probability of the 31-year-old failing to make the cut, Owen Farrell will take over the captaincy and Jamie George is set to take Hartley's place in the starting XV.

“Dylan and Harry will be monitored on a daily basis and we’ll see how that progresses,” Borthwick said.

“Dylan trained yesterday (Monday) and felt a bit of tightness afterwards. He reported that and the decision of the medical team is to monitor it daily.

“It’s meant that Luke Cowan-Dickie was called up to the squad yesterday and trained fully this morning as cover.

“We have the two hookers in Dylan and Jamie and we need the third hooker as cover. And Kyle Sinckler is here as a tighthead prop as well as those are specialist positions so you need specialist cover.”

Meanwhile, Jack Nowell and Sam Underhill are already ruled out of the Round 4 clash after sustaining ankle and toe injuries respectively.

“Jack Nowell rolled his ankle in training, the same ankle that he injured earlier on this season. He has returned to Exeter,” Borthwick said.

“It happened at the weekend and we did a further investigation late yesterday and a decision was made then.

“Sam took a knock to his big toe after someone trod on it. It’s flared up so he’s not in contention against France.

“He went back to his club this morning and that decision was made late last night as well after an investigation.

“It’s been great having Jack and Sam as part of the squad as they’re both excellent players who are great to have around the squad.

“We want them to recover from their injuries as quickly as possible. It’s unlikely that Jack will be fit for Ireland, but we hope Sam’s injury will calm down quickly.

“But, as we’ve seen in the past, whenever there are injuries there are opportunities and you can see players return quickly from injury like Sam Simmonds.”

Elliot Daly, who has recovered from ankle and calf injuries is likely to take over the place of Nowell while Underhill's place on the bench is likely to be filled by James Haskell.

England are currently positioned second in the Six Nations Championship table and now face France in a must-win situation, if they are to keep their hopes of defending the title alive.

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