Key man a major doubt to take on the Azzurri.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster says that fly-half Owen Farrell only has a “50-50” chance of being fit to face Italy at Twickenham in the RBS Six Nations on March 10.
Farrell limped off with a thigh strain in the second half of last weekend’s 23-13 win at home to France and faces a race to be fit for the penultimate hurdle of England’s bid for a first Grand Slam since their World Cup-winning year of 2003.
“Owen is making good progress and he’s 50-50 for the Italy game. In the next week he’ll be running, but the problem will be kicking. If there’s a doubt we won’t risk it,” Lancaster said.
England do have an experienced replacement for Farrell in Toby Flood, who came off the bench against France.
But they would clearly like their 21-year-old rising star to remain fit for a Six Nations campaign that culminates with a match away to defending champions Wales in Cardiff on March 16.