The extent of the injury suffered by England forward Courtney Lawes in Northampton’s Tuesday night Gallagher Premier defeat to Sale is still unclear following a club statement nearly 24 hours after he hobbled off at Franklin’s Gardens.  

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Lawes departed in the ninth minute of the 34-14 loss after falling awkwardly when challenging Tom Curry for a high ball, the Saints second row catching his right ankle in the turf as his body twisted on landing.

Soon after, England midfielder Manu Tuilagi followed Lawes off the pitch having taken a bang to what appeared to be his left achilles during a bulldozing carry out of defence when his team Sale were pinned in their own 22.

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Both players were in obvious discomfort and had to be helped off before taking their places in the stands with strapping fastened on to the affected areas in alarming scenes at Franklin’s Gardens.

England head coach Eddie Jones is due on Monday to announce a preliminary squad for fixtures against the Barbarians and Italy that take place at the end of next month as the prelude to the Autumn Nations Cup.

Tuilagi and Lawes would be fully involved throughout the campaign and their absence would be a major setback to Jones as England target the win in Rome on October 31 that might deliver the Six Nations title.

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The early outlook on Lawes was bleak. “Courtney has an ankle injury and it looks pretty ginger. I wouldn’t be overly hopeful of a fast return – he sustained a fairly heavy blow,” said Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd in the immediate aftermath. “He’ll get a scan. It’s unfortunate for Courtney and maybe in the short term unfortunate for England.”

Northampton have now provided an update on their player, stating: “Saints can confirm that Courtney Lawes sustained an ankle injury in last night’s defeat to Sale Sharks which requires further examination by a specialist next week when the timeframe for his recovery will become clearer.” 

There has been no update on Wednesday regarding the seriousness of Tuilagi’s injury. Steve Diamond admitted “it doesn’t look good” when questioned post-game on Tuesday about the damage to his player’s left leg. 

“Somebody landed on it. We’ll be assessing it overnight. I don’t think it’s clever. I don’t think it’s the best,” Diamond said. “Manu has settled in so well. We were having a bit of crack this week about how he’s never played so many games, maybe that was a jinx. 

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“Whatever it takes to get Manu back, we’ll do it, however long it takes. We’ll comfort him over the next month or two and chat about a long-term career with us. We’re delighted about what he’s done for us so far.”

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