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England facing possible backrow reshuffle

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England facing possible backrow reshuffle

England could be forced into a change in their backrow with Brad Shields looking increasingly doubtful for their Six Nations opener with Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

Shields pulled out of Wasps’ recent Heineken Champions Cup game with Leinster at the Ricoh because of a side strain but travelled to the Algarve to join up with the England squad.

Shields was not involved in training on Tuesday prompting fears he will not be fit in time to make the game at the Aviva Stadium.

The former Hurricanes captain broke into the England squad for the June tour of South Africa and can operate at lock or in the backrow. He was first choice blindside flanker during the Novemnber internationals for matches against South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

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Courtney Lawes operated in the 6 jersey against Japan, however Mark Wilson is likely to get the nod instead, with the player regularly selected in that position for Newcastle Falcons. Wilson was also an impressive performer during the Autumn for England, when playing at number 8 and at openside. With Billy Vunipola likely to return at number 8, it could be the perfect solution to keep Wilson in the team.

Centre Ben Te’o also missed out on training on Tuesday. Eddie Jones will whittle down his 35-man squad later on Tuesday, with his matchday squad set to be named on Thursday.

On Monday it was revealed that Jack Clifford returned home after the backrow suffered a head injury in training.

“Jack took a knock to the head so what we’ve decided to do is to manage him,” said England defence coach John Mitchell.

“It’s not an HIA outcome but it’s more important to manage him, so he’s returned home early as he won’t be able to get through most of the work remaining.”

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England facing possible backrow reshuffle