Courtney Lawes is unavailable for England’s Guinness Six Nations clash with Italy as he continues to recover from concussion.
Lawes missed the 20-17 Calcutta Cup defeat by Scotland that opened the tournament and has yet to resume full training with Eddie Jones’ squad, ruling him out of Sunday’s trip to Rome.
Tom Curry will remain as captain in Lawes’ absence and the hope will be that the veteran Northampton lock is passed fit for the visit of Wales to Twickenham on February 26.
“Courtney Lawes is unavailable for selection as he continues working through his return to play protocols,” a Rugby Football Union statement read.
Lawes’ last outing was for Northampton against Ulster on January 16 and his ongoing absence will be of concern to England as they look to rebuild their title challenge in round two.
Uncapped Leicester forward Ollie Chessum has been retained in the reduced 27-man squad that will step up preparations for the Stadio Olimpico showdown and could make his debut on Sunday.
There is no place for Joe Launchbury, however, as he returns to Wasps to continue his comeback from the knee injury he sustained in April.
The absence of Mark Atkinson means England will either retain their centre duo of Henry Slade and Elliot Daly or opt for Slade alongside Joe Marchant.