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David Wilson to start against Ireland in Dan Cole's absence


England head coach Stuart Lancaster

England head coach Stuart Lancaster

England head coach Stuart Lancaster

England are ready to start David Wilson against Ireland on Saturday as they come to terms with having lost prop Dan Cole for the remainder of the RBS 6 Nations.

Wilson played just 47 minutes of Bath's Aviva Premiership victory over Exeter on Saturday in his first match since suffering a calf injury in December.

The only alternative is to pick Henry Thomas, who has been supplying cover for Cole from the bench but is deemed too inexperienced to start such a pivotal match.

Cole is due to see a specialist for a second opinion on a bulging disk in his neck tomorrow and in his absence, head coach Stuart Lancaster is set to opt for Wilson.

"David's obviously back in the mix now, so it's fortunate that he's come back and played at the weekend," Lancaster said.

"Clearly it's not ideal having had such limited game time but there are certainly positives from my point of view.

"He was outstanding for us on the summer tour to Argentina. For me he's played his best rugby this season.

"His calf has healed pretty well, but it's a tight back that's kept him out for the last couple of weeks.

"He's been able to maintain his fitness, albeit there's nothing that beats a game.

"Obviously during the Exeter v Bath game there was a lot of rugby played in the first half. Certainly he felt the pace, but he's good to go and it's good to have him back.

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"We're not bringing in an inexperienced tighthead here. We're bringing in an experienced tighthead who has a lot of runs on the board in terms of international experience and game time this season.

"He hasn't played so much this season, but we're 100 per cent confident about bringing him back into the team."

Cole needs a period of rest after the bulging disk, which is trapping a nerve, was diagnosed when the Leicester tighthead experienced weakness during a gym session at St George's Park last week.

Lancaster said: "He was doing a bench press and he was down in strength in one arm, which then alerted everyone to the need for further investigation.

"It was then on the resulting scans that we saw the bulging disc.

"My understanding from the medics was that it happened over a period of time and was not a one-off incident that caused it.

"Obviously now that it has been diagnosed, it's not worth taking the risk over, we need to allow to heal properly."

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