Lancaster makes Burrell admission

Published: Tuesday 28th October 2014 by The News Editor

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England head coach Stuart Lancaster has admitted it is unlikely Luther Burrell will be fit for the opening Test of the autumn with New Zealand after the Northampton centre sustained a hand injury.

Burrell, who has seven caps, was withdrawn shortly after half-time of Northampton’s European Champions Cup victory over the Ospreys with an injury to his right hand.

Burrell is still to join up with England’s squad at Pennyhill Park in Surrey and will see a specialist on Tuesday to discuss a scan, but time is running out for him to face the All Blacks, the reigning world champions, at Twickenham on November 8.

“I think it would be tight for New Zealand, if I’m being honest,” Lancaster said.

“He’s not been in camp this week at all. He’s seeing the specialist and it will probably unfold over the weekend.

“He’s still in the equation further down the line. He’s definitely not out the series. We’ll see how he goes.

“If the specialist is positive, then potentially he could come back into camp next week, but he won’t have done any of the work.

“It would be a big step to put him in (against New Zealand).”

Burrell is more likely to be involved in the Tests with South Africa (November 15), Samoa (November 22) and Australia (November 29).

Lancaster added: “We’ll have to wait and see what the specialist says. A little bit more optimistic than originally, certainly no surgery at the moment.”

Burrell is the biggest fitness concern after an impressive first 12 months in the Test arena.

England’s camp began on Monday, with Harlequins prop Joe Marler (quad), Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola (concussion), Kyle Eastmond (rib) and Harlequins wing Marland Yarde (ankle) missing training.

Wasps back row James Haskell (virus) and Bath prop David Wilson (calf) are in light training.

England are optimistic the seven listed injured players will recover to be in contention for selection, particularly given they will have this coming weekend off.

“It’s always a tough start to the season for players, particularly when they go six rounds of the Premiership and then two rounds of Europe,” Lancaster added.

“Often this camp for us is just about getting everyone together again but also it allows them to have a weekend off this weekend.

“The extra weekend will give us the time that we need and I’m sure the players will be ready for next week.”

Published: Tuesday 28th October 2014 by The News Editor

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