England sweat on the fitness of Maro Itoje following knee injury

Maro Itoje

 Maro Itoje’s knee injury will be assessed but it is highly unlikely he will be available to face France on Sunday. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

England are sweating on the fitness of Maro Itoje amid concerns he could be ruled out for the rest of the Six Nations tournament, while Manu Tuilagi also faces an anxious wait to learn if he will be sanctioned for a dangerous clear‑out on Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale.

Itoje limped out of England’s 32-20 victory against Ireland on Saturday with a knee injury and was on crutches during his side’s post-match celebrations. England do not convene to begin preparations to face France on Sunday until Tuesday and Itoje will be assessed between now and then. It is highly unlikely he will be available to face France however, with Eddie Jones stating after the match he thought Itoje had sustained medial ligament damage. When Itoje suffered the injury, the referee, Jérôme Garcès, could be heard saying: “I think he’s broken his leg.”

If Jones’s early prognosis is correct, Itoje – who has endured a recent spell on the sidelines with a separate knee injury – may miss the rest of the tournament considering Joe Cokanasiga has not played since suffering medial ligament damage in December. “He’s going to be the best lock in the world so it’s a big loss,” said Jones. “But we’ve got good depth. We’ve got Joe Launchbury ready to come back in, you saw Courtney [Lawes] come off the bench for us. We’ll have to fill his spot and guys will just to work that bit harder to cover his gap for how long he is out for.”

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Meanwhile, Tuilagi’s shoulder charge on Stockdale at a first-half ruck went unpunished but could land him in hot water. The citing commissioner Jeff Mark has until 48 hours after the match in which to cite any incidents so Tuilagi, who impressed in his first Six Nations start for six years, will learn his fate on Monday.