(Reuters) – England could fast-track lock Maro Itoje back into their Six Nations squad for their next game against Italy after Courtney Lawes was ruled out of the tournament, coach Eddie Jones has said.
Lawes suffered a calf strain in England’s 21-13 defeat by Wales in Cardiff on Saturday and is out for at least four weeks.
Itoje sustained medial ligament damage during England’s 32-20 win over holders Ireland in their opening game and Jones said the 24-year-old Saracens player had made good progress with his rehabilitation.
“(Itoje) is coming along well,” Jones told British media. “I might have to give him the hurry-up, because we’ve lost Courtney. We’ve lost three of our best forwards and we’ve got to be able to cope.”
Apart from Lawes, prop Mako Vunipola (ankle) and hooker Dylan Hartley (knee) have also been ruled out for the rest of the championship.
England host Italy at Twickenham on March 9 before playing Scotland on March 16 in their final game of the tournament.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru)