|Rugby World Cup warm-up: England v Italy|
|Venue: St James’ Park, Newcastle Date: Friday 6 September Kick-off: 19:45 BST|
|Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 Live with Highlights on BBC Two at 23:05 BST|
England centre Henry Slade may head to the Rugby World Cup without playing in any of team’s warm-up matches after he trained away from the rest of the squad before Friday’s game against Italy.
The 26-year-old picked up a knee injury in training in August and has not played international Rugby since the draw with Scotland in March.
But assistant coach Neal Hatley insists England are happy with his recovery.
“He has trained exceptionally well. We are really pleased,” he said.
“Sladey ran well and got up to full tap.”
While Slade and Manu Tuilagi were England’s first-choice midfield combination in the Six Nations, head coach Eddie Jones has experimented with moving Owen Farrell into the centres in his absence, as well as giving Piers Francis and Jonathan Joseph game time.
England beat Ireland 57-15 in their most recent outing after winning at home and losing away to Wales.
Slade is not the only England back enduring a difficult run-up to the tournament with wing Jack Nowell still recovering from a knee injury and appendicitis.
The squad are due to fly out to Japan for the tournament on 8 September.
Third time lucky for McConnochie?
Ruaridh McConnochie should make his much delayed debut against the Azzurri on Friday night after twice being named in starting XVs and then pulling out with an injury before kick-off.
The 27-year-old former sevens player was due to play in the meetings with Wales but had to pull out of both matches with a hip injury and muscle strain respectively.
Fellow wing Jonny May believes McConnochie will take his chance when it finally arrives.
“I don’t want to jinx him or anything, but I am really excited for him to get out there and once he is out there he is gong to do what he does,” said May.
“All he has to do is do what he does in training, just go out there and be yourself.”