Eddie Jones is facing a selection headache after forwards Courtney Lawes and Jonny Hill were ruled out of England’s opening Six Nations match against Scotland on Saturday.
Lawes has failed to pass return-to-play protocols for concussion in time for the Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield, while Hill is still struggling with a stress fracture to his lower leg.
Losing Lawes is a bitter blow for England coach Jones as the Northampton flank was set to deputise as captain for Owen Farrell, who will miss the entire tournament after ankle surgery.
Lawes was concussed in Northampton’s match against Ulster on 16 January.
Jones has retained 16 forwards in a squad of 29 and names his team on Thursday.
England have now lost three first-choice forwards, with flank Sam Underhill missing from the Six Nations squad altogether because of his own concussion issues.
Wings Anthony Watson and Jonny May have been ruled out of the entire competition by knee injuries, while Manu Tuilagi has had his comeback for Sale delayed due to a hamstring problem.
Lawes will remain with the squad to continue his concussion protocols and attention will turn to who leads England in his absence.
Tom Curry, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ellis Genge are the vice-captains, with Curry the favourite to take charge.
“Eddie’s got a good leadership team in place. Tom leads by example and with the intensity he trains at,” forwards coach Matt Proudfoot said.
“Each one of the young guys who support Courtney have their own speciality in how they’re leading.”
England received some positive news after Joe Marler came through Tuesday’s practice session having spent the past week in self-isolation because of coronavirus.
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