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Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Lawes could play in Six Nations, says Martin Johnson

Lawes has World Cup prospects - Mallinder

England manager Martin Johnson believes Northampton lock Courtney Lawes could return from a knee injury before the end of the Six Nations.

Lawes, 21, suffered ligament damage in Saturday's loss to Leicester and Saints fear he will be out for three months.

But Johnson said: "It may be 10 weeks but it is probably going to be eight or nine. Things can change week by week."

England's Six Nations campaign starts against Wales on 4 February and ends with a trip to Ireland on 19 March.

Johnson has kept Lawes in his 33-man elite squad and is hopeful that both he and Leicester flanker Tom Croft, who is recovering from a fractured shoulder blade, could feature in the Six Nations campaign.


"Tom and Courtney both have a chance of playing rugby by the end of the tournament," said Johnson.

"Tom is making good progress with the Leicester medics and our guys and it is the same with Courtney, so they are both week-to-week and hopefully they will be fitter sooner rather than later and make the end of the tournament."

Replacements for Lawes and Croft are due to be announced before the end of January, with former captain Steve Borthwick and Northampton flanker Tom Wood possible candidates.

Borthwick has not played for England since suffering a knee injury while captaining the side against Scotland in the 15-15 draw in March.

Lawes came on as a replacement in that match against Scotland at Murrayfield and took the chance to impress in Borthwick's absence on the team's summer tour down under.

4 February - Wales v England
12 February - England v Italy
26 February - England v France
13 March - England v Scotland
19 March - Ireland v England

After starring in the 21-20 win over Australia in Sydney last June, Lawes was named England's man of the series after impressive displays in the autumn's Test matches.

His rapid promotion to England's starting line-up followed a string of powerful ball-carrying showings for the Saints, including when he overshadowed second row pairing Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan in their 31-27 win over Munster in October 2009.

Lawes' club and international team-mate Ben Foden has tipped him to come back stronger than ever.

"He's a strong character and a young guy," said Foden. "Having had such a good autumn series, he'll be very disappointed not to be involved but he'll bounce back and hopefully the time in the gym will be spent well and he'll come back bigger and stronger than ever.

"He's got to get himself right first and foremost. He seems to be in quite good spirits. Injuries come and go in rugby."

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see also
Hodgson & Deacon in England squad
12 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Leicester 27-16 Northampton
08 Jan 11 |  English
Hartley eyes more England Saints
29 Dec 10 |  Northampton
England 35-18 Australia
13 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Lawes 'fourth choice' for England
24 Mar 10 |  Northampton
Who is Courtney Lawes?
28 Oct 09 |  Rugby Union

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