Rugby World Cup 2019: Brad Shields facing deadline to prove fitness as England reveal injury update

England coach Eddie Jones has imposed a deadline on when his injured contingent of players must prove they will be able to play a full role in Japan

Marler comes out of retirement to be named in England's World Cup training squad

Brad Shields faces a race against time to prove his fitness for the Rugby World Cup after defence coach John Mitchell confirmed the Wasps forward will be sidelined for up to six weeks – the day England begin their training preparations in Japan.

The flanker suffered foot ligament damage during England’s first day of training in Treviso for their two-week Italian camp, and was forced to fly home for treatment as uncapped Harlequins back-row Alex Dombrandt took his place.

Shields is going through his rehabilitation plan, but Mitchell revealed that the timescale for his return puts him in danger of missing the imposed deadline by Eddie Jones to prove his fitness, with the head coach ready to cut his contingent of injured players that also includes Jack Nowell and Mako Vunipola unless they prove that they can contend with a full campaign in Japan.

“Brad’s got a tear in the lower foot. It’s always niggly but it’s four-to-six weeks. But we’ll continue to be updated with him and appraised of his recovery to see where he gets to,” said Mitchell.

“Eddie will decide, obviously we’ve got a deadline and that’s important but Eddie will decide on who’s right and who’s not right. There’s plenty of time to go and there are no major concerns.”

Like Shields, Nowell also returned home this week to continue his recovery from ankle surgery following the Premiership final, but the mood seems more optimistic surrounding his road ahead and he remains on course to make the final 31, which will be selected on 12 August.

“Jack’s going really well,” added Mitchell. “He’s just returned for a routine surgical review so it’s something that was in his programme which happens with surgical situations. He’s just going through his routine.

“(We’ve) got no idea. We’ll have a clearer idea once he comes out of his surgical review.”

The two remain the biggest concerns for Jones, given that Saracens lock George Kruis returned to full training this week after recovering from his own ankle procedure, while Vunipola is expected to be available at some stage during the Rugby World Cup warm-up matches against Wales and Ireland over the coming weeks.

“George is back in training this week which has been really good for him,” said Mitchell. “He’s been fantastic and the medical team have done a great job on his progressive return and he’s back in filled with enthusiasm and looking great. Mako’s progressing nicely so we should see him back at some point in August. Again Eddie will decide that, but he’s progressing really nicely.”

The remaining 37 players in Treviso will continue to be put through their paces until Friday in the extreme humidity in preparation for what they can expect in areas of Japan, with this being the first of two training camps to take place in Italy before Jones’ squad departs for the Far East.

Brad Shields is facing a race against time to be fit for Rugby World Cup selection

As well as humidity levels reaching as high as 90 per cent in temperatures topping out at 36 degrees Celsius, the players had to contend with Conor O’Shea’s Italy squad coming into camp on Monday, although there was no repeat of the fiery session with Georgia during the last Six Nations campaign as a tight rein was kept on both sets of players.

“It’s been good, the guys are working very hard. It’s certainly asking good questions and greater demands on people’s work-rate off the ball and the little things that are unseen when you’re challenged by heat and fatigue so everyone’s working very hard. It’s asking a lot of questions mentally and physically which is what we want.

“For those of you that have experienced any sort of form of exercise in humidity it takes a while to adapt and it varies from 10 per cent to 15 per cent (at home), but I think we’ve had humidity ranging between 75-90 per cent here,” explained Mitchell. “It makes you sweat and it sits on you as well so the intake of fluid and electrolytes is critical every day.

Mako Vunipola remains in individual training as he recovers from hamstring surgery

“Italy were in yesterday and in our unit training, that was invaluable. It’s always nice at some point during your preparation to train against an organised opposition that you’re not familiar with on a day-by-day basis, and it was really constructive and very unemotional, which can often not be the case when you have forwards up against forwards. But I think both countries got a lot out of it.

“It was just purely unit training and there were rules around contact constraints, so certainly no bone-on-bone or live contact, it was purely units-only.”

England get their first warm-up match underway on 11 August against Wales, just one day before Jones announces his final 31-man squad for Japan 2019, although the Australian has the ability to tinker with who's in and who's out until the start of September under World Rugby's rules.

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