England coach Eddie Jones has confirmed that skipper Owen Farrell will miss the upcoming Six Nations tournament.
The Saracens skipper has been sidelined with a knee injury since England's autumn series win over Australia in November and underwent a surgery. Nevertheless, just as the 30-year-old was lining up to return for training with Saracens ahead of the marquee tournament, he sustained another injury and is expected to be out of action for eight to 10 weeks according to Jones.
“It’s a massive blow for him personally, but it’s a chance for people to step up," said Jones.
The absence of Farrell saw Jones recall George Ford for the first time since last year's Six Nations with Marcus Smith set to don the number 10 jersey and Jones had high praises for the Harlequins star.
“For a young guy to play against the number one country in the world and the number three country in the world in his second or third Test match and steer the team to victory, what I enjoyed most, particularly his effort against South Africa, was that it was one of those games we had to win two or three times,” added the England coach.
“He showed a lot of courage and we went out to attack the space which is not always easy because of their rushing defence and he showed a lot of composure and a lot of skill. He’s only going to get better during the Six Nations.”
The absence of Farrell means Courtney Lawes is likely to lead the team but the Northampton lock is currently recovering from a concussion but Jones expressed confidence on his recovery before the tournament opener against Scotland scheduled on 5th February.
“He’s doing really well, quite positive and he’s making good steps every day,” said Jones.
Earlier on Tuesday, England's preparations was also rocked by the news of Joe Marler testing positive for Covid-19 and was withdrawn from the training squad in Brighton while Jonny May is expected to miss at least the first two games due to a knee injury with Elliot Daly added to the squad as a replacement.