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England forward Itoje to miss France clash with knee injury

Maro Itoje will miss England’s Six Nations contest against France due to a knee ligament injury, but is expected to resume playing towards the end of the tournament.

The Saracens lock sustained the injury to his right knee during Saturday’s impressive opening-round 32-20 win against Ireland in Dublin and was later seen leaving the Aviva Stadium on crutches.

Itoje was left out of England’s 35-man squad preparing for this weekend’s clash against France at Twickenham and reports suggest he will also miss the trip to Wales on February 23.

It remains to be seen if the 24-year-old, regarded as one of the best second-rowers in international rugby, will be available for the home contest with Italy on March 9.

Sarries team-mate Nick Isiekwe has been called up in Itoje’s place, while uncapped quartet Jack Singleton, Ben Earl, Dan Robson and Ollie Thorley are part of the squad.

Speaking after the Ireland game, head coach Eddie Jones expressed his confidence that England can cope without Itoje, who in December suffered a chip in his knee cap.

“Maro’s going to be the best lock in the world so it’s a big loss, but we’ve got good depth,” Jones said.

“We’ve got Joe Launchbury ready to come back in and you saw Courtney Lawes come off the bench for us. We’ll have to fill his spot and guys will just have to work that bit harder to cover his gap for how long he is out for.”

Squad in full:

Forwards

Jack Clifford, Dan Cole, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Ben Earl, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Nathan Hughes, Nick Isiekwe, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Ben Moon, Brad Shields, Kyle Sinckler, Jack Singleton, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Harry Williams, Mark Wilson.

Backs

Chris Ashton, Mike Brown, Joe Cokanasiga, Elliot Daly, Ollie Devoto, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Dan Robson, Henry Slade, Ben Te’o, Ollie Thorley, Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs.

KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta

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