Cockerill cool on Tuilagi's England chances
ESPN Staff
February 13, 2014
Manu Tuilagi was injured in his first appearance for the Tigers this season © Getty Images

Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill has cooled suggestions Manu Tuilagi could be fit for England before the end of the Six Nations.

Tuilagi has missed virtually the whole season after tearing a pectoral muscle in his first match of the campaign against Newcastle. He missed the November internationals for England and now the first two matches of the championship and faces a battle to retake his outside centre spot.

Tuilagi has been pencilled in for a return to first-team action against Newcastle on March 2 but with concerns over fitness and England seemingly happy with their current centre partnership of Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell, Tuilagi may have to wait until the summer tour to New Zealand to wear the England shirt again.

"If he plays against Newcastle, and there is still a margin there that he may or may not, there are two Six Nations games after that," Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury. "So, if he plays say 40 to 50 minutes at Newcastle, he will have played a game and a half, in a season.

"Could he then go and step into two huge games [for England]? It may well depend on what is happening with England at that point. Injuries or form or whatever. You never say never."

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