England may have gathered at a new training base – the national football centre at St George's Park in Staffordshire – but they are suffering from an age-old problem: a rash of injury concerns ahead of the autumn internationals. Having called in two forwards, the London Irish hooker David Paice and the Harlequins lock George Robson, because of the trauma suffered by Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes during Northampton's weekend defeat by Saracens, they added to their reinforcements yesterday by sending for Matt Mullan, the Worcester prop.
Mullan, beaten to a place in the 32-man squad by the uncapped Mako Vunipola of Saracens, is acting as cover for Joe Marler of Quins, who finished Sunday's match at London Irish with a hamstring issue. Others in the "walking wounded" category include the flanker Chris Robshaw, who is expected to be reconfirmed as captain today, the centre Jonathan Joseph, the scrum-half Ben Youngs and the lock Tom Palmer.
These fitness hassles may be worrying, especially the knee problems affecting Hartley and Lawes, but this is by no means the longest casualty list of modern times. At the same stage in 2006, around half the squad were unable to train.