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Brad Shields faces a race against time to prove his fitness for the Rugby World Cup after defence coach John Mitchell confirmed the Wasps forward will be sidelined for up to six weeks – the day England begin their training preparations in Japan.
The flanker suffered foot ligament damage during England’s first day of training in Treviso for their two-week Italian camp, and was forced to fly home for treatment as uncapped Harlequins back-row Alex Dombrandt took his place.
Shields is going through his rehabilitation plan, but Mitchell revealed that the timescale for his return puts him in danger of missing the imposed deadline by Eddie Jones to prove his fitness, with the head coach ready to cut his contingent of injured players that also includes Jack Nowell and Mako Vunipola unless they prove that they can contend with a full campaign in Japan.
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“Brad’s got a tear in the lower foot. It’s always niggly but it’s four-to-six weeks. But we’ll continue to be updated with him and appraised of his recovery to see where he gets to,” said Mitchell.
“Eddie will decide, obviously we’ve got a deadline and that’s important but Eddie will decide on who’s right and who’s not right. There’s plenty of time to go and there are no major concerns.”
Like Shields, Nowell also returned home this week to continue his recovery from ankle surgery following the Premiership final, but the mood seems more optimistic surrounding his road ahead and he remains on course to make the final 31, which will be selected on 12 August.
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