England's Farrell in injury scare ahead of Scotland clash

Julian GUYER
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Owen Farrell is now set to resume his role as England's first-choice goal-kicker

Owen Farrell gave England an injury scare just two days before their Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland at Twickenham when he limped out of training on Thursday.

Farrell, England's first-choice goal-kicker and named at inside centre in the team announced earlier Thursday, received treatment and was withdrawn from the Six Nations champions' final training session at their Bagshot base, southwest of London.

England coach Eddie Jones told a news conference later that Farrell was doubtful for Saturday's match but moments afterwards said he would be "alright" to face Scotland.

"He could be in doubt," said Jones when asked about the 25-year-old Farrell's fitness.

"He's got a bad leg, so he couldn't finish training. He'll be alright."

When it was put to Jones he had just said Farrell was a doubt, the Australian snapped back: "Yeah, but I think he'll be alright. Is that OK?"

Meanwhile Jones resisted the temptation to bring Billy Vunipola straight back into his starting side.

Vunipola, however, was among the replacements, with the powerhouse No 8 poised to make his first appearance of the tournament after proving his fitness following a knee ligament injury while playing 72 minutes for English and European champions Saracens last weekend.

Nathan Hughes retained the No 8 shirt for the Triple Crown decider, with England aiming to equal world champions New Zealand's record of 18 successive Test wins by a 'tier one' or leading rugby union nation on Saturday.

Jones made three changes, all in the reigning Grand Slam champions' back division, to the starting XV that beat Italy 36-15 last time out.

Ben Youngs was back as first-choice scrum-half in place of Danny Care, Jonathan Joseph returned at outside centre instead of Ben Te'o and Jack Nowell, who scored two tries against the Azzurri, came in for right wing Jonny May.

Joe Marler was in line to lead England out, rather than captain Dylan Hartley, in honour of the prop winning his 50th cap on Saturday.

"I've coached a lot of good players and he is certainly one of the best," said Jones of Marler.

"To have him and Mako Vunipola (Billy's older brother) available together to give us 80 minutes at loose-head is an enormous advantage."

Tournament leaders England remain well-placed to retain their title but they will be up against a revitalised Scotland, who've already beaten both Ireland and Wales this Six Nations.

Scotland coach Vern Cotter made just one change Thursday to the team that beat Wales 29-13 at Murrayfield.

Hamish Watson came in for the injured John Hardie, having replaced his fellow back-row in the 25th minute of the Wales match.

Scotland have not won at Twickenham since 1983 and Kiwi coach Cotter said: "The challenge is for us to combine the best parts of our performances so far in this campaign in to one excellent performance at Twickenham this Saturday.

"We’ll need that to put us in a position to win this game and we'll enjoy the challenge of doing that against an England team that hasn’t lost in a while."