England's Billy Vunipola unlikely to face France as he struggles with ankle injury
England attack coach Scott Wisemantel: "If there's any risk he will not be 100 per cent, he won't play"
Last Updated: 08/10/19 10:35am
Billy Vunipola appears increasingly unlikely to play any part in England's final World Cup Pool C game against France on Saturday.
Vunipola injured his left ankle in last Saturday's bonus-point victory over Argentina and, after repeatedly receiving treatment on the pitch, was withdrawn at half-time before undergoing a scan.
While refusing to rule him out of the clash with France, attack coach Scott Wisemantel revealed the Saracens No 8 has been doing recovery and rehabilitation work instead of training with the rest of the squad.
Vunipola, England's most potent forward ball carrier, is the only player to have started all 12 of this year's Tests and his value to head coach Eddie Jones means it is unlikely he will be risked if there are any doubts over his fitness.
He has been wearing a protective boot as a precaution at various points this week.
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"We're being overly cautious. If there's any risk he will not be 100 per cent, he won't play, but I don't know the outcome of the scan. If there's any risk, we won't risk him," said Wisemantel.
Tom Curry came in for Vunipola when he limped off against France but Mark Wilson is favourite to face France if Vunipola is not considered fit enough to face Les Bleus.
"We still have a luxury of carriers. Billy has been terrific for us, but he missed the autumn [Tests] recently and Mark Wilson was the player of that series," said scrum-half Ben Youngs.
"Billy does suck in lots of defenders and he's a great carrier for us, but those other guys carry the ball differently because of the lines they pick. They are a bit more subtle about where they pop up.
"We're blessed with some of the back rows that we have got, but we're very confident they'll carry us on to the front foot."
England have already qualified for the quarter-finals, with Saturday's match in Yokohama deciding who finishes top of the pool, with the winner likely to face Australia in the last eight.
But the runners-up of Pool C, who are likely to play Wales next, could avoid a potential semi-final against the defending champions New Zealand.