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Owen Farrell hands England major boost for France showdown after returning to training following sickness bug

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 09/10/2019 Will Macpherson
Owen Farrell holding a football ball on a field © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Owen Farrell returned to training with England in Tokyo on Wednesday, having been hit by a sickness bug yesterday.

It raises the likelihood that captain Farrell will be named to start in an England team featuring various changes to face France in Yokohama on Saturday. Billy Vunipola (ankle) will not be risked, while it seems likely that Joe Marler (back) and Jack Nowell (hamstring) will also sit it out. All three missed training today.

Defence coach John Mitchell said: “They have little niggles [but] are definitely progressing and are on restricted training. We will take it day by day and we don’t see any huge risks. We see them both [Marler and Nowell] being in contention possibly for the weekend, but definitely for next week.”

(Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images) © Getty (Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

Of Nowell, who came off the bench to score against Argentina in his first appearance since June on Saturday, Mitchell added: “It’s just a little hamstring injury. Jack will be getting slightly frustrated. We feel for him. He had the return from injury in the Premiership Final, then appendicitis, then another little niggle. You saw a moment of brilliance [against Argentina] and he will have taken a lot from that.”

Farrell and Luke Cowan-Dickie returned to full training, though, having caught a bug affecting the camp. Farrell has struggled a touch for form at this tournament and has been on the receiving end of two high hits that have resulted in red cards for USA’s John Quill and Argentina’s Tomas Lavanini.

While there have been suggestions all week that head coach Eddie Jones will rotate his players when he names his squad tomorrow, Farrell looks set to start.

(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) © Getty (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“We have great belief in our squad,” added Mitchell. “We’re very fortunate to have really good depth and the players have a mindset that they could be called upon at any time. I’m not sure what the right words is, but we do have the ability to rotate.”

Prop Dan Cole believes England are yet to hit their straps in the tournament. “We haven’t played our best game yet and are still getting better,” said the tight-head prop. “If you look at some of the tries France have scored in this tournament, they have dangerous runners. The flair does still exist.”

Argentina signed off from the World Cup this morning with a convincing 47-17 win over the USA. The Pumas ensured qualification for the 2023 tournament by securing third spot in Pool C, running in seven tries, including two for centre Juan Cruz Mallia.

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Related: England Rugby World Cup player ratings: Argentina [Read Sport]


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