Maro Itoje and Henry Slade give Steve Borthwick Six Nations headache

Steve Borthwick in Six Nations headache thanks to worrying ankle injury to Maro Itoje that could rule him out of championship…and Henry Slade’s red card that could see the Exeter player suspended

  • Steve Borthwick will announce his England squad for the Six Nations on Monday 
  • Saracen’s Maro Itoje could be an injury doubt after hurting his ankle against Lyon
  • Henry Slade could also miss out through suspension following his red card 
  •  England kick-off their Six Nations campaign against Scotland on February 4th  

Steve Borthwick will unveil his England squad for the Six Nations on Monday morning, having endured an injury scare for Maro Itoje and a red card for Henry Slade.

The new England head coach can name up to 36 players ahead of the Championship opener against Scotland at Twickenham on February 4, although he may limit himself to 34 or 35. Initial indications are that Itoje and Slade will be included, despite incidents in Saturday’s Champions Cup fixtures which cast doubt on their availability.

Itoje limped off in the closing stages of Saracens’ emphatic victory over French side Lyon. The lock had treatment on his right ankle during the second half and played on with the joint heavily strapped. 

New England coach Steve Borthwick will name his squad for the six nations on Monday 

He had landed awkwardly in a lineout and the jarring impact left him in obvious discomfort. The early prognosis from Saracens was reasonably positive, as the club suggested that Itoje had merely rolled his ankle.

However, any doubt about Itoje’s state of fitness would be a cause for concern as he is one of the few certainties for a place in England’s starting XV.

Maro Itoje limped out of Saracens win over Lyon and could be a injury doubt for Borthwick 

Slade was sent off in the second half of Exeter’s match against the Bulls in Pretoria, by replacement referee Thomas Charabas. 

His high tackle on Kurt-Lee Arendse was deemed to have been a red-card offence, but the decision was widely criticised as excessive — with replays showing Slade making first contact with the arm and shoulder of the young Springbok.

If the referee’s verdict is upheld, Slade is in danger of missing the start of the Six Nations due to suspension.

Henry Slade could miss the Six Nations through suspension after his red card against the Bulls

However, both club and country are hopeful that a judicial review will lead to the decision being revoked.

Several contenders have been pressing their case for inclusion in Borthwick’s squad. Among them are Dan Kelly and Dan Cole from Leicester, London Irish wing Ollie Hassell-Collins, Saracens flanker Ben Earl and Tom Willis, the former Wasps back-rower who is now at Bordeaux, before a planned summer move to Saracens.

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