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England to hurry back Itoje

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Eddie Jones is threatening to fast-track Maro Itoje's England return

Maro Itoje’s return to the England side could be hurried in the wake of the loss of lock Courtney Lawes for the remainder of the Six Nations.

Itoje missed England’s 21-13 defeat to Wales with medial ligament damage, a loss in which Lawes suffered a calf strain that will keep him out for at least four weeks.

With a RugbyPass Index score of 93, Itoje is rated as one of the best forwards on the planet.

England cannot afford another slip-up in their final games with Italy and Scotland, and Itoje may well be called upon earlier than expected as they bid to keep their title hopes alive.

“[Itoje] is coming along well,” coach Eddie Jones said. “I might have to give him the hurry-up, because we’ve lost Courtney.

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“We’ve lost three of our best forwards and we’ve got to be able to cope.”

England host Italy on March 9 before welcoming Scotland to Twickenham a week later in their tournament finale.

Itoje failed to recover after injuring medial ligaments during England’s 32-20 win over Ireland at the Aviva on matchday one.

He was initially expected to be ruled out for the rest of the tournament, but the England camp have expressed positive noises. Last week Forwards coach Steve Borthwick told Sky Sports that he was “not quite ready” to face Wales.

“He continues to rehab day-by-day. He is not going to be available for Saturday’s game. So you are always looking to the future and the timelines of progression is day-by-day. He is doing well, but not quite ready for Saturday.”

Asked whether he’d be ready to return for the Italy game Borthwick said: “I expect him to continue to be monitored on a day-by-day basis and progress. he is not fit for this Saturday and right now I am not looking beyond that.”

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Eddie Jones is threatening to fast-track Maro Itoje's England return