England hooker Steve Thompson is the latest casualty amongst the national side’s probables to play in the November Tests.
The burly No 2 sustained a debilitating calf injury over the weekend in a match for Northhampton against Gloucester. He has been ruled out for four to six weeks, and so will miss out on the team’s training for the Autumn Tests.
England have begun preparations for their matches against New Zealand, South Africa (twice) and Argentina. However, at a national camp held in Loughborough, 23 of the 55 listed in the elite squad and senior national academy were unable to train. This not only bodes poorly for the upcoming home fixtures but for the World Cup in France next year as well.
Thompson joins Olly Barkley (testicle), Ben Cohen (virus), Charlie Hodgson (wrist) and Andrew Sheridan (shoulder) among the players being monitored after illness or injury in the Premiership.
The following will also not train because of injuries sustained before last weekendâ€™s Premiership games, but who are attending for rehabilitation with the England medical team: Iain Balshaw (ankle), Andy Goode (knee), Ryan Lamb (ankle), Michael Lipman (shoulder) and Mike Tindall (calf).
A further group of injured players are rehabilitating at their respective clubs: Stuart Abbott (knee), Jon Clarke (ankle), Lawrence Dallaglio (ankle), Richard Haughton (shoulder), James Simpson-Daniel (collarbone), David Paice (wrist), Ben Skirving (knee), Mathew Tait (knee), Mark Van Gisbergen (jaw), and Jonny Wilkinson (knee).
Dr Simon Kemp, the head of sports medicine at the RFU, was vocal about the dire situation, citing the emphasis on the physical side of the game as the contributing reason for the increasing amount of injuries.
“Our ongoing injury audit, which provides detailed information about injuries over the course of a season, has shown that an average of 25% of players are unfit at any one time,” he said.
“We have always seen fluctuations from week to week in this number but this week we have seen an unusual and unprecedented number of injured players with approximately 50% of the elite-player squad/senior national academy squad unfit to train.
“The majority of these injuries this week are the sort of impact related ones that appear to be a consequence of the ferocity of the collisions seen in the modern professional game.”
England coach Andy Robinson tried to remain positive about the ordeal, stating that there is still time for these players to recover.
“It is unfortunate that we have so many players injured but they are in good hands with both the England and club medical teams, and I am hoping that some of them will be available next week,” he said.
“Although we had fitness testing last Tuesday, this is our first training camp of the season and the coaches and the fit players who are available to train are looking forward to some quality time together over the next three days.”