England hope Ford ‘back soon’ as Barbarians await


George Ford is set to be back in England action “pretty soon”, assistant coach John Mitchell said Thursday.

Doubts, however, remain over whether he will be fit to face Italy in the Six Nations at the end of the month.

The fly-half withdrew from the squad that plays the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday, with what the Rugby Football Union said was a “pre-existing Achilles issue”.

That left the experienced Owen Farrell and Piers Francis as the only capped stand-offs available to England coach Eddie Jones this weekend.

Saturday’s match is a non-cap international but of greater concern is whether Ford will be ready to return for next weekend’s Six Nations fixture in Italy.

Mitchell was guarded about the Leicester back’s progress but did not rule him out of the trip to Rome on October 31.

“Fordy has got a slight ankle problem that’s obviously being managed,” said Mitchell.

“Clearly we expect him back and in preparation pretty soon, but it’s important to manage these guys so we get them back at 100 percent.

“We’re aware of the injury and we’re managing it. At the moment he’s in a position of rehabbing and reconditioning and we’ll take the next step post getting through that period.”

England have added the Bristol trio of Kyle Sinckler, Ben Earl and Max Malins to their group after the Bears were ruled out of participating in the Premiership final on Saturday when Wasps were given the all-clear following several positive tests for the coronavirus.

Mitchell, however, suggested it may be too soon to ask the Bristol contingent to play this weekend.

“We’ve got a group here now three weeks in advance in terms of high-speed running and the way we go about our training and methodology,” the New Zealander said.

Meanwhile Bath centre Jonathan Joseph is looking forward to facing the Barbarians, as England play their first match since the coronavirus lockdown halted the Six Nations in March.

“It will be great to pull on the red rose again, it feels like it’s been forever,” said Joseph. “A lot of the boys are very excited to be back in the camp and as usual there’s a massive buzz around it.

“Every time you’ve got this shirt on you’re a representation of yourself and you always want to put your best foot forward.”

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