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England captain Farrell undergoing thumb procedure

England's preparations for their Guinness Six Nations opener against Ireland have been thrown into disarray by a thumb injury to captain Owen Farrell. Credit: PA

England's preparations for their Guinness Six Nations opener against Ireland have been thrown into disarray by a thumb injury to captain Owen Farrell.

Farrell is undergoing a procedure to repair ligament damage and is expected to return in seven to 10 days, making him available for the title showdown in Dublin in a fortnight.

However, with England departing for their pre-tournament training camp in Portugal on Wednesday the Saracens playmaker's ability to train will be severely restricted.

The worst case scenario would mean he is unable to take part in sessions until four days before the Aviva Stadium showdown.

"It's a simple procedure and he should be back in seven to 10 days," Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall told BT Sport before the Champions cup clash with Glasgow.

In the event Farrell suffers a setback, his place at fly-half would be taken by George Ford with Henry Slade providing further cover after Danny Cipriani was omitted from the training squad named by Eddie Jones on Thursday.

Ford could also take Farrell's leadership duties as Dylan Hartley is recovering from a knee injury.

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Underhill could be doubt for England's Six Nations openers

Flanker Sam Underhill could be a doubt for England's opening Guinness Six Nations games against Ireland and France. Credit: PA

Flanker Sam Underhill could be a doubt for England's opening Guinness Six Nations games against Ireland and France.

Underhill's club Bath have confirmed that he suffered an ankle ligament injury during last Sunday's Gallagher Premiership victory over Leicester.

The west country club say "further detail around his expected return" will be provided after he is reviewed by a specialist.

It is understood that Underhill could be sidelined for at least four weeks, and that will give England head coach Eddie Jones a fitness concern ahead of the Six Nations.

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England's Tuilagi has one training session to prove fitness ahead of Australia test

Manu Tuilagi has one last training session to prove his fitness for England's final Quilter International against Australia at Twickenham. Credit: PA

Manu Tuilagi has one last training session to prove his fitness for England's final Quilter International against Australia at Twickenham.

Tuilagi was expected to be ruled out of Saturday's climax to the autumn with the groin strain that has prevented him from playing this month, only to be retained in a 26-man squad that is making final preparations to face the Wallabies.

Eddie Jones names his team at lunchtime on Thursday and will assess Tuilagi's availability after this afternoon's make-or-break session.

"We need to find out where he's at and whether he's at 100 per cent," defence coach John Mitchell said.

"We expect him to train this afternoon, but like all players we intend to have restricted training activities based on their individual needs."

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Halfpenny to miss Wales' meeting with South Africa

Leigh Halfpenny has been ruled out of Wales' Under Armour Series finale against South Africa in Cardiff on Saturday. Credit: PA

Leigh Halfpenny has been ruled out of Wales' Under Armour Series finale against South Africa in Cardiff on Saturday.

The goalkicking full-back suffered concussion following a challenge by Australia centre Samu Kerevi when Wales beat the Wallabies 10 days ago.

Kerevi escaped sanction following the incident, but Wales have now lost 80 times-capped Halfpenny for the Springboks fixture.

"Leigh is out," Wales assistant coach Rob Howley told reporters at Wales' training base on Tuesday.

"He did some training on Saturday morning, and he was still feeling a little bit light-headed.

"It is just a commonsense approach, really. A player's welfare comes first. He unfortunately misses out this weekend."

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