England’s preparations to take on Australia at Twickenham on Saturday have taken a significant blow, as wing Chris Ashton has reportedly had to sit out Tuesday’s training session.


The Sale Shark was substituted after 33 minutes against Japan, suffering from what looked to be a lower leg injury.

He had been one of England’s most consistent performers against New Zealand and had helped spark an impressive second half showing against South Africa in the opening weekend of the autumn internationals. His first half try against the All Blacks took his tally to three scores in six games against the top ranked side in the world, with the former Saracen boasting an impressive strike rate at the highest level.

Check it out: Chris Ashton’s impressive RugbyPass Index (RPI) stats

His absence from training today does not bode well for his chances of making the 23 to play against Australia, whom he has the same strike rate of three tries in six games against.

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England’s other wing options in the 28-man squad retained ahead of the test on Saturday are Jonny May, Joe Cokanasiga and Jack Nowell, with May expected to come back into the XV after having been rested for the game against Japan.

Should Ashton not regain sufficient fitness in time, this would leave it as a two-horse race between Cokanasiga and Nowell for the wing berth opposite May, with Elliot Daly likely continuing in his role at full-back.

Cokanasiga made his international bow in the game against Japan, scoring a debut try and impressing with his work rate on the pitch, one of the chief attributes that Ashton brings to the mix, whilst Nowell is the more experienced option and offers similar positive impact with his work rate. Nowell was deployed at 13 against Japan and England head coach Eddie Jones will now have to make a decision on where he sees the Exeter Chief fitting in moving forward, although a short-term return to the wing would seem the likely outcome for the game against the Wallabies.

Watch: Scotland international Huw Jones is reportedly in talks with a Gallagher Premiership club.

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