New Zealand v England: Danny Care injury doubt for first Test as Stuart Lancaster gives scrum-half a '50-50' chance of recovering from shoulder injury to face All Blacks
Ben Youngs is on stand-by to replace Care if he doesn't recover which would mean Northampton's Lee Dickson would be required to feature on the bench
Thursday 05 June 2014
England scrum-half Danny Care's prospects of playing in Saturday's first Test against New Zealand appear increasingly bleak due to a shoulder injury.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster rates Care's chances of recovering in time for the series opener at Eden Park as 50-50, although he will be given more time to prove his fitness.
The 27-year-old, the catalyst behind England's improved attacking game in the most recent RBS 6 Nations, jarred his shoulder after suffering an accidental fall in training.
Lancaster insists that because the tour to New Zealand spans three Tests, no risks will be taken with the Harlequins half-back. Ben Youngs is on standby to start in Care's place.
"Danny is 50-50 I'd say at the moment. We want to make sure we're doing right by him," Lancaster said.
"To go into a Test against the All Blacks with anyone who is not 100 per cent physically and mentally would be a poor decision, so we need to make sure he's 100 per cent right.
"I also have my mind on the fact there's more than one game in this series, so I want to make sure I'm doing right by him.
"I know he's desperate to play because he's been exceptional in the Premiership and for us this season. We have to do the right thing.
"It would be a big blow losing him, but that would be lessened by Ben whose form picked up at the end of the season.
"If you go back to the game in 2012 when he started against New Zealand, that was him at his best and he's approaching that form now."
Lee Dickson, who only arrived in New Zealand on Wednesday having helped Northampton win the Aviva Premiership final, is ready to supply cover from the bench.
Dickson could find himself plunged into action at a venue where the All Blacks have won every match for 20 years.
"Lee's excited. He's just played in a final, he's won it and is absolutely buzzing," Lancaster said.
"He didn't train today and we need to manage him carefully. As soon as we knew about Danny we got word back to him in England.
"He started adjusting his time and sleep patterns from England to make sure he's adjusted. He'll be ready, no problem."
Care has been named in England's starting team for the first Test, but Lancaster's plans may change.
England team to face New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday June 7, 0835 KO BST:
M Brown (Harlequins); M Yarde (Harlequins), M Tuilagi, (Leicester), K Eastmond (Bath), J May (Gloucester); F Burns (Leicester), D Care (Harlequins); J Marler (Harlequins), R Webber (Bath), D Wilson (Bath), J Launchbury (Wasps), G Parling (Leicester), J Haskell (Wasps), C Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), B Morgan (Gloucester).
Replacements: J Gray (Harlequins), M Mullan (Wasps), H Thomas (Sale), D Attwood (Bath), T Johnson (Exeter), B Youngs (Leicester), D Cipriani (Sale), C Pennell (Worcester).
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