Saturday 21 July 2018

England hoping to have Hartley back at the helm

Dylan Hartley looks fit to face Ireland.
Dylan Hartley looks fit to face Ireland.

Duncan Bech

Dylan Hartley and Elliot Daly remain in contention for England's duel with Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.

Long-serving captain Hartley was forced to miss last Saturday's 22-16 defeat in France with a tight calf, but head coach Eddie Jones expects the Northampton hooker to recover in time to take part in the final round of the Championship.

Lions wing Daly sustained a foot injury in Paris and underwent a scan on Monday, the results of which have yet to be disclosed by England.

Henry Slade, Alec Hepburn and Nick Isiekwe will return to their clubs after being omitted from the 29-man squad retained at England's Surrey training base to continue preparations for Ireland's visit.

Saturday's loss at the Stade de France meant Ireland won the Six Nations title with a round to spare, and a third successive defeat for England would be the first time they have lost three games in the Championship since 2006.

If results go against England, who have lost Nathan Hughes and Courtney Lawes to knee injuries, then they could finish as low as fifth.

Meanwhile, France have escaped a citing for an alleged biting incident involving Maro Itoje during that Paris clash. Itoje demonstrated to referee Jaco Peyper after claiming to have been bitten by an opponent and showed the South African official a mark on his left arm.

England raised the matter with the citing officer Murray Whyte, but no France player will face a disciplinary hearing with the 48-hour deadline for action to be taken having elapsed.

Irish Independent

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