Stuart Lancaster: Burrell definitely not out of autumn Test series
England head coach reveals that Northampton Saints star unlikely to play against All Blacks, but could return for later matches
Luther Burrell is unlikely to be fit for England’s opening QBE International series match against New Zealand, admits head coach Stuart Lancaster.
The Northampton Saints centre went off at the start of the second half of their European Champions Cup win over the Ospreys with a heavily strapped right hand and is still to join up with the rest of the England squad at Pennyhill Park.
“If the specialist is positive, then potentially he could come back into camp next week, but he won’t have done any of the work
“I think it would be tight for New Zealand, if I’m being honest,” Lancaster said.
“He’s not been in camp this week at all. He’s seeing the specialist and it will probably unfold over the weekend.
“He’s still in the equation further down the line. He’s definitely not out the series. We’ll see how he goes.”
The 26-year-old, who was an important part of England’s Six Nations squad earlier this year and has enjoyed an impressive start to his international career, is set to see a specialist on Tuesday to discuss a scan, but his chances of being ready for the All Blacks on 8 November appear to be slim.
“If the specialist is positive, then potentially he could come back into camp next week, but he won’t have done any of the work,” Lancaster added. “It would be a big step to put him in.
England have already lost Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi for at least the majority of the four-match series next month, while Bath Rugby centre Kyle Eastmond is still nursing a rib injury picked up in Europe against Glasgow Warriors earlier this month.
But it is Burrell, who is the biggest injury doubt in the midfield for Lancaster, who is open to the Saints player returning for the later Tests against South Africa, Samoa and Australia.
“We’ll have to wait and see what the specialist says,” he said. “A little bit more optimistic than originally, certainly no surgery at the moment.”
England’s training camp also saw several other players struggling with injury, including Harlequins prop Joe Marler (quad), Saracens number 8 Billy Vunipola (concussion), Harlequins wing Marland Yarde (ankle) all missing training on Monday.
Wasps back row James Haskell, who was recently hospitalised with a viral infection, and Bath prop David Wilson (calf) have been in light training, but the England coaching staff are optimistic they will recover in time to be considered for selection.
“It’s always a tough start to the season for players, particularly when they go six rounds of the Premiership and then two rounds of Europe,” Lancaster added.
“Often this camp for us is just about getting everyone together again, but also it allows them to have a weekend off.
“The extra weekend will give us the time that we need and I’m sure the players will be ready for next week.”