New Zealand

Lancaster hit by front row headache

Mon, 11 Nov 2013 17:21
Joe-marler-england Mako-vunipola-england-looks Marland-yarde-england Ben-youngs-england
We're hoping he'll be ok
Quote-end

England coach Stuart Lancaster has a potential front row crisis on his hands ahead of the Test against the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday.

Lancaster on Monday confirmed Mako Vunipola is unavailable for the blockbuster after failing to recover from a knee injury that ruled him out of the weekend’s 31-12 win over Argentina.

Joe Marler, meanwhile, will have to pass cognitive tests if he is to play after suffering concussion and being replaced at half-time in the clash against the Pumas.

"Mako won't be playing. Joe's going through the mandatory recovery for concussion, but we're hoping he'll be OK," Lancaster said.

Alex Corbisiero, just back from injury himself, replaced Marler in the second half and is expected to start at loosehead, while Lancaster will have to decide whether to recall Dan Cole or retain David Wilson at tighthead.

Given the uncertainty, loosehead Matt Mullan will remain in the squad as injury cover. His Wasps teammate, Christian Wade, who Lancaster confirmed would have started ahead of Chris Ashton against the Pumas before he suffered a hamstring strain in training, looks set to miss the All Black game.

Meanwhile scrumhalf Ben Youngs has been given a clean bill of health following a hip problem and Lancaster was optimistic wing Marland Yarde would recover from a hip injury of his own.

But Lancaster said wing Christian Wade was "unlikely" to get over a tight hamstring in time.

Lancaster is due to name his team on Thursday.

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