Daily Star


Alex injury KO is big blow for Borthwick


ALEX MITCHELL has been ruled out of England’s Six Nations clash with Scotland on Saturday, in another setback for coach Steve Borthwick.

Scrum-half Mitchell, who started wins over Italy and Wales, has a knee injury and will be assessed this week.

Bristol’s Harry Randall has been promoted from the A squad as cover for Danny Care and Ben Spencer at scrum-half.

Borthwick has been boosted by the return to full fitness of Bath centre Ollie Lawrence, who has finally shrugged off a hip injury and joins fit-again Manu Tuilagi in the squad.

Fly-half Marcus Smith is not expected to make the weekend, although he will be in camp recovering from the calf problem that sidelined him for the first two games.

Leicester lock George Martin is fully fit and in contention for Scotland, but Mitchell’s absence robs Borthwick of his first-choice No.9.

The Northampto­n man was left out of Borthwick’s original World

Cup squad but was called up when Jack van Poortvliet wrecked his ankle in a warm-up game.

And he forced his way to the top of the pecking order in France, starting knockout games against Fiji and South Africa ahead of Care and Ben Youngs.

Care looks favourite to start at Murrayfiel­d with Spencer, who has not been capped since 2019, on the bench.

Borthwick called 36 players into England’s Surrey base last night but one glaring omission was Gloucester’s in-form No.8 Zach Mercer.

Mercer was axed early from England’s pre-World Cup training squads but was on fire in his club’s 17-14 Premiershi­p Cup semi-final win against Exeter on

Saturday. The 26-year-old is frustrated his style of play has not won over Borthwick, who prefers a big ball carrier at No.8.

Mercer said: “Steve came out and said every coach wants to play a certain style and way and he picks his team that way, which is understand­able and I respect that.

“That is his personal preference but if he needs me, he knows where I am.

“I can’t really explain the situation with what has gone on.

“I play my best rugby when I can do what I want to do. I am backed here to go out there and have a bit of fun.”

In the second Premiershi­p Cup semi-final, Leicester beat Championsh­ip leaders Ealing 29-21 yesterday and will play Gloucester in the final on May 15.

 ?? ?? COME IN No.9: Mitchell, with Borthwick (inset), will not face Scots
COME IN No.9: Mitchell, with Borthwick (inset), will not face Scots

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