Itoje, Watson and Cowan-Dickie all doubts for England’s autumn squad

England are sweating on the fitness of Maro Itoje, Anthony Watson and Luke Cowan-Dickie before their autumn squad announcement on Monday.

Itoje and Watson both left the field early during Saracens’ 71-17 thrashing of Bath at the Recreation Ground, while Exeter’s Cowan-Dickie limped off with an ankle problem at Wasps on Saturday. Itoje took a blow to his shoulder and was replaced after 48 minutes while Watson strained a knee in open play late in the game.

Mark McCall, Saracens’s director of rugby, said the exact nature of Itoje’s injury remained unclear on Sunday night. “We’re not sure at the moment whether it’s shoulder or pec muscle,” McCall said. “We’re don’t know how serious it is yet.” Bath, whose loss was the heaviest home league defeat in the club’s history, said the initial signs were that Watson’s injury was “not too bad”.

McCall believes Jones now has little choice but to recall the Vunipola brothers and Jamie George, among others, after Saracens’ stunning 10-try performance in front of the national coach. “I’d be amazed [if he doesn’t],” McCall said. “I think everybody would be after the way they played today. If Eddie wanted to see their motivation and desire to still play for their country they showed that – and their quality.

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“We expect to have a lot more players back in the squad and I think they deserve to be there after today. I thought Billy was unreal and Mako as well. Owen Farrell led the team superbly … they all played well.”

England are due to face Tonga at Twickenham in their opening autumn Test on 6 November.


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