Leicester’s Tuilagi was missing for the Six Nations opener against Scotland on Saturday with an ankle injury which allowed Billy Twelvetrees to make a try-scoring debut.
Brad Barritt was switched from inside to outside centre to accommodate Twelvetrees in the 38-18 victory, but Lancaster is all too aware three into two does not go.
Tuilagi was a key figure in the Red Rose’s autumn international triumph over New Zealand, but Lancaster claims he won’t be rushed on a decision ahead of Sunday’s trip to Dublin.
“The last message we had about Manu was that he’s fit and available to train,” said Lancaster .
“There are selection decisions across the field and that’s one of them. Billy played well and Brad’s contribution as always was positive.
“But Manu brings a unique set of skills and attributes to the game and the team, as we saw in his performance against the All Blacks.
“Genuinely, I’ll wait and see how he trains before I make any decisions on the centre partnership.
“The reason I prefer to announce the team later in the week is that it allows me to look at the players in training and see who’s up to speed and who isn’t.”
MORE: The latest football news
MORE: The latest tennis news
BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge