Six Nations: Farrell to rest ahead of Italy clash

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ENGLAND stand-off Owen Farrell is unlikely to train this week as he continues his rehabilitation from the thigh problem sustained in Saturday’s RBS Six Nations victory over France.

Farrell, whose kicking was increasingly restricted by the injury, was replaced in the second half of the 23-13 win at Twickenham by Toby Flood.

It is hoped the 21-year-old will be able to resume training next week, when England continue their preparations for the penultimate hurdle of their Grand Slam quest against Italy on 10 March. “Owen is still recovering from his tight quad muscle and probably won’t train this week but we are fortunate to have Toby, who came on and did well against France,” said England head coach Stuart Lancaster.

Farrell will continue his recovery alongside Ben Morgan and Billy Vunipola, who are nursing ankle complaints, and knee injury victim Alex Corbisiero.

Hooker Dylan Hartley is one of ten players to have been released back to their clubs for the weekend’s Aviva Premiership action. Scrum-half Lee Dickson, full-back Ben Foden and lock Courtney Lawes will join Hartley back at Northampton, while wing David Strettle and centre Joel Tomkins will return to Saracens. Wasps back row James Haskell, Worcester flanker Matt Kvesic, Bath prop David Wilson and Leicester No 8 Thomas Waldrom have also been released to their clubs.

The Azzurri last night named an unchanged 30-man squad for the match and their final fixture against Ireland.