England lose their starting fly-half for summer tour to New Zealand and Japan

England Rugby have confirmed fly-half George Ford will miss this summer's tour to Japan and New Zealand due to injury.

The fly-half is recovering from a pre-existing achilles injury and together with Sale Sharks it has been agreed that the 31-year-old will not tour with England this summer. England head coach Steve Borthwick is set to name his touring squad tomorrow lunchtime, with Northampton Saints fly-half Fin Smith to come into the fold alongside Harlequins stand-off Marcus Smith.

With Owen Farrell having stepped back from England duty ahead of his move to France this summer to join Racing 92, Ford was England's first choice in the number 10 jersey during the 2024 Guinness Six Nations. Looking to the future, Borthwick has called up Gloucester playmaker Charlie Atkinson to train with the national side for the last two weeks and he could now be in contention to tour as a third-choice option in the specialist position.

However, Borthwick may choose to go with just two 10s and rely on the likes of Northampton's George Furbank or Bristol Bears ' Max Maxlins as cover at fly-half. Both men are full-backs by trade but ended their Premiership seasons playing at 10 due to injuries, with Furbank helping Saints beat Bath 25-21 in the Gallagher Premiership final yesterday.

Borthwick said: “Naturally we’re disappointed that George won’t be with us in Japan and New Zealand, but, following specialist medical advice, and in consultation with George himself, we have decided this is the best course of action.

“George is a big part of the England team and is an excellent professional who I know will rehab diligently to ensure he gets himself right as soon as he can.”