Stuart Lancaster turns to Matt Kvesic as injuries hit England squad

 

Stuart Lancaster's carefully laid plans for the forthcoming Six Nations Championship were subject to early adjustment last night, with the first sight of the enemy still almost a fortnight distant. Injuries to two of the England coach's back-row forwards, the Exeter flanker Tom Johnson and the Northampton bruiser Calum Clark, forced him into action and he immediately turned to the uncapped Worcester breakaway Matt Kvesic to fill one of the gaps.

Kvesic, a genuine open-side specialist and therefore a rarity in red-rose circles, was close to selection when Lancaster announced his 33-man elite squad earlier this month. The coach has long considered him one of the brightest back-row talents in the land – a judgement reinforced by the player's outstanding club performance against Leicester shortly after Christmas.

Johnson suffered a knee injury while playing against the reigning champions Leinster in Saturday night's Heineken Cup match at Sandy Park and, if initial assessments are correct, he will certainly be out of circulation for England's opening tournament games against Scotland at Twickenham and Ireland in Dublin.

Clark's shoulder problems are also worrying: like Johnson, he has remained at his club for treatment rather than join the squad in Leeds for this week's training camp – a clear sign that an early recovery is thought unlikely. He has been replaced by the Saracens lock Mouritz Botha, one of the forwards demoted to the second-string Saxons party following the autumn internationals.

Lancaster suspected the last round of Heineken Cup matches would be troublesome on the injury front: Clark was spearheading Northampton's faint survival bid in Glasgow, while Johnson found himself on the dangerous end of a pumped-up Leinster side raging, albeit unsuccessfully, against the dying of the Heineken Cup light.

The coach also called up the long-serving Harlequins wing Ugo Monye, for the very good reason that a number of his selected backs finished the European weekend in need of treatment by the England medical staff. It was not clear yesterday whether the latest contender for the outside-half position, Freddie Burns of Gloucester, would be fit to take a full part in training.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project