It has emerged that Tuilagi completed a minor knee procedure at the end of last season and while he is expected to be fit for the start of the upcoming Premiership campaign, he is unable to take part in a 44-man training camp that will be held in south west London this weekend.
The setback is the latest in a career that has been decimated by injury over the last four years and his most recent start for England was against New Zealand in 2014.
Chest, groin, hamstring and repeated knee issues requiring three operations alone have resulted in lengthy spells of rehabilitation and his solitary Test appearance under Jones was as a replacement in the 2016 Six Nations.
England’s head coach is already accustomed to being without his most destructive threequarter ball carrier but is now beginning to worry over his long-term prospects.
Tuilagi 'should be fit' for start of season after knee operation: England and Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi says he "should be fit" for the start of the season after having a minor knee operation. https://t.co/J09gwFGdQR— Rugby Tickets (@getseatnow) August 2, 2018
Asked if he is concerned for Tuilagi’s future, Jones said: “Yes, 100 per cent. The kid just needs a bit of luck. I know he is working hard at his game.
“He’s that sort of player who puts himself in physical, confrontational positions so we just hope he has a bit of luck.
“We would love to see him back at his best playing with the power, verve, aggression and skill that you see from him.
“If he does that he will certainly be someone we are going to look at very closely.”
While Tuilagi continues to be stuck in limbo, Chris Ashton has edged closer to reviving his international career just weeks after ending his three-season contract at Toulon two years ahead of schedule in order to join Sale.
The former Saracens wing set a new try-scoring record for the Top 14 but his determination to add to his 39 caps, combined with family reasons, inspired his return to the Premiership.
Jones spoke to Ashton before the 31-year-old plundered a hat-trick for the Barbarians against England in May and was quickly persuaded by his intent, immediately elevating him into his pre-season training squad.
“I suppose the definition of encouragement is ‘have you thought about coming back?’ So if that’s encouragement, that’s encouragement,” said Jones, when asked if he had looked to persuade Ashton to return to these shores.
“We had a quick chat and he had a bit of a glint in his eye, which indicated something and that something was that he wanted to come back to England.
“Chris had the idea in his head. He wants to play for England and he sees this as his last opportunity so we’re very pleased that he’s made that decision. We’re looking forward to what he can bring to the table.”
Dylan Hartley will participate in the three-day training camp after missing the summer tour to South Africa due to the concussion that has sidelined him since March.
“Like any of those head injuries, it’s touch and go. You never know when you’re going to recover and how well you’re going to recover, so it’s good to see him back,” Jones said.
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