Luke Cowan-Dickie returns to training as England’s injury worries ease

Luke Cowan-Dickie returns to training as England’s injury worries ease

Cowan-Dickie was was a doubt for England’s autumn opener against Argentina next weekend

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Luke Cowan-Dickie could yet prevent a full-blown injury crisis at hooker after making a return to light training at England’s camp in Jersey.

Cowan-Dickie was withdrawn at half-time of Exeter’s Gallagher Premiership defeat by Saracens on Saturday to place his involvement in the autumn opener against Argentina in doubt.

England have already lost Jamie George for the entire series because of a foot problem and, with rookies George McGuigan and Jack Singleton the next contenders, they are hoping a second Lions hooker is not ruled out.

“Luke took part in some units this (Wednesday) morning. As far as I’m aware, the knee is settling down. There’s every chance that he will train fully next week,” forwards coach Richard Cockerill said.

If Cowan-Dickie remains out for Argentina’s visit to Twickenham on 6 November, England will turn their attention to two players who occupy the fringes of their squad.

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McGuigan is uncapped and has been forced to bide his time to impress Eddie Jones after seeing his Newcastle understudy Jamie Blamire gain the Australian’s favour last autumn.

Gloucester’s Singleton won all three of his caps in 2019 including one appearance at the World Cup, but he has struggled to force his way into the matchday 23 since.

“I’ve been very impressed with both of them. Both of them play in forward packs that are very good at the set piece, both scrum and line-out, so they fit that mould for us very, very well,” Cockerill said.

“They’ve been around squads previously and have been working very hard to take the opportunity if it comes.

“We’ve obviously got some quality hookers in and around the England squad and we have some injury concerns over guys that have been the favoured ones previously. If the opportunity arises, they’re working hard to be ready to take it.”

A leadership deficit has been created by the head injuries sustained by Courtney Lawes and Owen Farrell, who were due to enter the autumn as captain and vice-captain if fit.

But both Lions are following the return to play protocols for concussion, placing Tom Curry or Ellis Genge on standby to lead the side into the showdown with one of their group rivals at next year’s World Cup.

“They’re still going through the normal process and we don’t have any more news on that. If they’re right, they’ll come into the squad,” Cockerill said.

“If they’re not, we’ll do everything we can to make sure they’re fully recovered before they come back in.

“We’ve got lots of good leaders in the squad. Eddie will have an idea of who he wants to have as captain for the autumn. There’s a long time to go yet and nobody has been ruled out of the captaincy equation.

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“We’ve got guys that have captained their clubs and we’ve got guys leading behind the scenes anyway in their own way. We’ve got lots of options that give opportunities to somebody else to potentially step up if needed.

“We’re worrying about how we’re going to play and preparing the team as well as we can. The captaincy is really a secondary thought behind getting as well prepared as we can.”

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