Don't write off France – Lancaster

Date published: February 19 2013

England coach Stuart Lancaster is not falling into the trap of underestimating France ahead of Saturday's clash at Twickenham.

England coach Stuart Lancaster is not falling into the trap of underestimating France ahead of Saturday's Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

France will travel across the Channel on the back of successive defeats to Italy and Wales that have triggered heavy criticism of coach Philippe Saint-André.

However, Lancaster refused to write off the French and insisted they remain formidable opposition.

“If you look at their performances in the autumn, the three wins over Samoa, Argentina and Australia show they are not a bad side,” said the England coach on Monday.

“They beat Australia 33-6 and Australia then beat us. While we'll take something out of their first two Six Nations games, we'll also take something out of those autumn internationals and make sure we're ready for them.”

England fly-half Toby Flood and flanker James Haskell missed training on Monday because of a tight calf and 'flu respectively.

Lancaster is hopeful that loose forward Ben Morgan will recover from his ankle injury in time to play some part in the Six Nations.

Morgan was injured in England's victory over Scotland in the opening round of fixtures and has been ruled out for this weekend's games, but Lancaster believes the Gloucester number eight could return against Italy on March 10.

The 23-year-old has been joined on the sidelines by Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns, who is struggling with a knee injury, and Lancaster revealed he would also miss the France match.

“Morgan and Burns are making slow progress,” Lancaster added.

“Freddie is further down the line, but they won't play this weekend so it will be another week or so.

“Ben will be fine. It's an ankle injury similar to the one Manu Tuilagi had. Manu was out for four or five weeks and Ben will be about the same.

“He wants to get himself right so he can push for selection against Italy.”

Meanwhile, centre Jonathan Joseph has been ruled out for two weeks with a toe injury, but full-back Ben Foden has made good progress in his battle with ankle damage and will play for Northampton against Bath on Saturday.