English Rugby
Manu Tuilagi a major doubt for autumn Tests
ESPN Staff
September 24, 2013
Manu Tuilagi is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines © Getty Images

England's centre options

  • Kyle Eastmond - Currently injured but shone for England on their tour of Argentina. Livewire centre who can unpick the most brutal of defences.
  • Anthony Allen - Criminally overlooked by England in the past and is equally adept at No.12 and 13.
  • Luther Burrell - Offers the same physicality as Tuilagi and Barritt and has been one of the form players in the Premiership this season.
  • Billy Twelvetrees - Could act as a second playmaker. Incredibly talented but may not offer the same bulk favoured by England in the past.
  • Jonathan Joseph - Yet to find his feet for Bath but did well on the summer tour of Argentina. Has a real chance of being picked at No.13 for England.
  • Henry Trinder - Gloucester's best player this season, Trinder is making all the right noises about an England call-up for outside centre.
  • Elliot Daly - Incredibly talented and cuts neat lines with ease but currently injured and set for October return.
  • Joel Tomkins - Saracens centre cruelly missed out on summer tour due to injury. One of the better crosscode moves and is certain to win England caps at some juncture.
  • George Lowe - Harlequins centre has been a mainstay in their centres but is probably fairly low down the pecking order

England are sweating on the fitness of Manu Tuilagi who could miss the autumn Test series after suffering a suspected torn pectoral muscle.

Tuilagi shone for the Tigers at the weekend in their 31-6 defeat of the Newcastle Falcons in his first match back for Leicester since the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia in the summer. But it looks like Tuilagi is set for a prolonged spell on the sidelines as he fights back from his injury.

"Manu has a suspected torn pectoral muscle in his chest," Cockerill told the Daily Mail. "He's going for further investigation today and it is hard to tell how long he will be out for but it's going to be weeks leading to months potentially.

"These things happen. Hopefully, he will not be out for too long. Six to eight weeks at best but it may be longer depending how much damage these is."

Cockerill's prognosis will make grim reading for the England coaching staff with the national side opening their autumn Test programme against Australia on November 2. Tuilagi will have a scan on Tuesday evening to determine the extent of his injury.

England are already without Brad Barritt for the autumn Tests and now look likely to be without Tuilagi. The news will also come as a significant setback for the Tigers as they open their Heineken Cup campaign against Ulster on October 11.

If Tuilagi fails to recover in time, England coach Stuart Lancaster will only have two centres to pick from in the EPS ahead of the autumn Tests, Bath's Kyle Eastmond and Gloucester's Billy Twelvetrees. However, the former has not played for his club after limping off in Bath's Premiership opener against Newcastle on September 6.

Lancaster is therefore likely to draft in some of the centres picked for the Saxons squad ahead of the autumn Test programme with Leicester's Anthony Allen, Bath's Jonathan Joseph, Saracens' Joel Tomkins, Harlequins' George Lowe and Northampton's Luther Burrell in the mix. Wasps' Elliot Daly could also be called upon but he is still recovering from an injury and has not yet played this season.

Who would you pick in the centres? Let us know below

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