England back Jonathan Joseph is winning his battle with the back injury sustained against Georgia as the Autumn Nations Cup challenge against Ireland looms at Twickenham on Saturday. Joseph suffered a spasm while in the process of setting up a try for Elliot Daly in the first half of a 40-0 rout of Les Lelos last weekend and was in obvious pain as he was helped from the pitch by England medics.
The 29-year-old Bath centre-turned-wing has responded well to treatment, however, and could be ready in time for the visit of Andy Farrell’s Ireland. “Jonathan is recovering nicely, so hopefully he’ll be in contention for this weekend, which is good for us,” attack coach Simon Amor said.
The news is less positive over fly-half George Ford and prop Joe Marler, both of whom look set to miss out once again as respective Achilles and knee injuries leave them waiting to make their first Autumn Nations Cup appearances.
“George is progressing nicely as well. We’re hoping he will be in contention in some part of this tournament,” said Amor, who revealed that flanker Mark Wilson has returned to his club Newcastle for treatment.
“It’s an achilles injury, which can take some time, but he’s progressing nicely so that’s encouraging,” Amor added of Ford. “We’re not sure at the moment if he will be back for Saturday, but he is moving in the right direction which is brilliant.
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“Joe’s another one who is progressing nicely and moving in the right direction. Hopefully, he will be involved in some part of the tournament and hopefully that will be sooner rather than later. They’re just difficult little injuries, niggling little injuries and we’ve got to get them right.”
Following last Saturday’s win, Jones said of Joseph’s injury: “He has got a bit of a spasm in his back. He landed on his lower back but we don’t think it is going to be too serious at this stage. We are hopeful, cautiously optimistic is probably the right term.”
Amor echoes the view of head coach Jones that England should have emerged more emphatic winners against Georgia. Los Lelos were taken on at their traditional strength in the forwards and taken apart but the attack spluttered, with Daly’s finish of Joseph’s break the highlight of an efficient if workmanlike team performance.
“We left quite a few points out there. We made some small progress, took steps in the right direction,” Amor said. “There were quite a few handling errors so there are definitely areas to improve upon. And we’re building those connections between players. We’re excited about where we’re going and we’re keen to take a big step forward this weekend, particularly in execution.”
The switch from outside centre to the right wing by Joseph was a success as he took advantage of being given the freedom to roam across the England backline, but if passed fit and selected he will find the Ireland defence less accommodating than Georgia’s.
“Jonathan’s had one previous opportunity to play on the wing for us. We think he can have a bit more space and that fluidity moving between the positions,” Amor said. “The opportunity to roam, the way the game is going, really plays to his strength. He has such a wonderful feel for the game.
“We know he’s elusive, he reads the game very, very well in defence and he has a wonderful feel in the attack, so he provides a really good attacking option for us.”
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