England are unable to put a time frame on Jack Nowell‘s return to action as doubt persists over his availability for the World Cup.
Eddie Jones names his 31-man squad for Japan 2019 on Monday and, if fit, Nowell would be a certainty to travel as part of the five-strong back three contingent.
But the 26-year-old Exeter wing is still recovering from the ankle injury incurred during the Premiership final in early June.
Despite a routine surgical review completed last week, England are unable to set a date for his comeback.
“Jack is progressing. He went back to his club and we’re hoping he’ll be back and ready to be an option,” assistant coach Neal Hatley said.
“The review with him will be ongoing. He’s a good healer so we’ll see where we get to with him.”
Brad Shields is the most serious of England’s injured World Cup contenders due to a foot injury that will take another three to four weeks to heal, but Mako Vunipola is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from a hamstring problem.
The schedule of four warm-up fixtures opens against Wales at Twickenham on Sunday and Hatley insists there will be no diffusing of the old rivalry despite the nature of the Test.
“No, absolutely not. No, never. It’s a Test match at Twickenham so the rivalry doesn’t take a back seat. It’s preparation and we want to see where we are, but it’s a Test match,” Hatley said.
“Wales are a good side, a really good side. This will be a good test of what we’ve been working on over the last six weeks.
“Physically and tactically we’ll find out where we are. We want to make sure that, in terms of preparation, we’re taking steps forward.”
James Haskell believes the upcoming Rugby World Cup will be England’s best chance of victory since they lifted the trophy in 2003.
The former England flanker, who played 77 times for the national side between 2007 and 2018, has admitted he is looking forward to the tournament in Japan.
England were left disappointed to finish as runners-up in the Six Nations earlier this year after being beaten by Wales 21-13 in Cardiff, and were also held to a draw against Scotland in the final game of the tournament.
Despite that, Haskell thinks this England team could repeat the success of 16 years ago.
“I think the World Cup is massively exciting for England,” Haskell said.
“Eddie (Jones) has left no stone unturned in pursuit of making the best team possible. I think they’ve taken training to a new level.
“I’ve had conversations with Eddie and he’s excited. I’m an England fan now and no longer a player and I’m excited to see us go on and win it.”
He added: “For me, it’s the best chance England have had since 2003, I think we’re in the best possible place to go and compete.”
In preparation for the World Cup, Jones’ England have been training in Treviso and the Australian has omitted some big names, including fly-half Danny Cipriani.
Cipriani was named player’s player of the season and player of the season at both the RPA awards and the Premiership Rugby awards but has been left out of the most recent training camp.
On the fly-half, Haskell said: “I always feel for Danny, I think he’s an incredible player. For me he’s probably the best fly-half in England at the moment on the form of last season.
“Obviously Eddie and the coaching staff have their reasons why.
“I think he’s someone that you should always have in the squad, he has that ability to perform, he can do things that the other guy’s can’t.”
England are set to host Wales on Sunday in the first of four warm-up matches before heading to Japan, where their World Cup campaign starts on September 22 when they take on Tonga in Sapporo.
Jamie George has been tapping into the brains behind England’s cricket World Cup triumph as Eddie Jones’ men plot their assault on rugby’s great prize.
George has spoken to Eoin Morgan, England’s one-day captain, who has presided over a remarkable climb to the summit of the game with last month’s victory over New Zealand in the Lord’s final.
England’s rugby team depart for their own World Cup in Japan on September 8 and George can see similarities in the fortunes of the teams.
“I know Eoin Morgan through Saracens and Jason Roy through my mate Sam Billings,” Lions hooker George said.
“You can see the parallels in how they had some pretty disappointing campaigns, some tough losses. Very much like us.
“There aren’t direct parallels in terms of the way the game is played, but in the team culture and the rest of it.
“That’s something Eoin Morgan is very keen on talking about so I have chatted about that with him before.
“He is a very impressive bloke and I have learnt a huge amount from him in terms of what he has done with the England cricket team.
“We have been through very similar challenges. To see them come out the other side and be crowned world champions is fully deserved and I’m very proud of them doing that.”