England sweat on Charlie Sharples shoulder

 

Gloucester are awaiting a medical update on their international wing Charlie Sharples, who picked up a shoulder injury during the Premiership victory at London Irish on Saturday and left the Madejski Stadium with his arm in a sling. Sharples, who narrowly missed out on selection for last year's World Cup in New Zealand, has been named in the senior England squad for the forthcoming Twickenham Tests.

The national coach, Stuart Lancaster, is already committed to making one change in his 32-man squad. Rob Webber, the hooker who left Wasps for Bath at the end of last season and held his place in the elite group despite missing the summer tour to South Africa because of a shoulder injury, will not play again this year after undergoing a second bout of surgery. The favourites to take his place, Tom Youngs of Leicester and Joe Gray of Harlequins, are both inexperienced and it may be that Lancaster will ask a second Bath front-rower, the 2009 Lions Test forward Lee Mears, to reconsider his retirement from the international game.

England's first match of the Twickenham autumn series, against Fiji on 10 November, is currently a long way short of a sell-out and the Rugby Football Union is making tickets available at the box office. After a long summer of top-class sport, business at the union turnstiles is slow across the board. London Irish drew fewer than 6,000 for the Gloucester fixture while both Exeter and Worcester, genuine rugby towns, were disappointed with the turnouts for their home contests in round one of the Premiership.

Meanwhile, the new Northampton No 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze has been cited for an alleged dangerous tackle on the Exeter scrum-half Will Chudley during Sunday's contest at Franklin's Gardens and will appear before a disciplinary panel in Coventry tonight. The South African forward served time in the sin bin either side of the interval after the referee, J P Doyle, ruled he had upended Chudley in an illegal fashion, but the citing officer, Micky Ward, decided yesterday that further action might be warranted.

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