Mike Tindall is a significant doubt for England's RBS 6 Nations opener against Italy tomorrow after injuring his back training in the gym.
Jamie Noon joined the camp yesterday and is favourite to be elevated straight into the starting line-up if Tindall is ruled out, with Mathew Tait retained on the bench.
England have already been forced into one late change this week, with Harry Ellis now starting at scrum-half after Danny Care slipped on ice at the squad’s Surrey training base and strained his ankle ligaments.
England manager Martin Johnson said: “Mike is a bit sore. He was training in the gym yesterday and ricked his back. He is getting some treatment now. We will see how he goes.
“Jamie Noon is down and we have Tait who was named on the bench. They can both play at 13.”
Noon started all four of England’s autumn internationals but lost his place in the original match 22 after Johnson recalled Tindall to the senior squad.
Tindall had missed the November series but returned along with Andy Goode and Mark Cueto to bring some experience to the England side.
England have been hit hard by injuries in the build-up to the championship.
Johnson was without seven players when he named the team to face Italy on Tuesday morning - and he now faces losing two more in the Test week.
Tom Rees (knee), Lewis Moody (ankle), Michael Lipman (concussion), Tom Palmer (shoulder), Ugo Monye (back) and Toby Flood (calf) were all injured, while Matt Stevens is unavailable after failing a drugs test.
Johnson, ever the pragmatist, refused to dwell on England’s misfortunes as he put together the final match preparations.
“These things happen. We don’t sit around thinking: ‘Oh, we have lost x, y and z’. Guys get hurt and you move on with the next guy. They are good players.
“The statistics say that at 25% of your squad will be injured at any one point so it will happen.
“But we are thinking about the game. We have been in camp for two weeks and we want to play.”