Big brother to the rescue

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Harlequins scrum-half Karl Dickson has been called into the England squad as a replacement for his younger brother Lee, who fractured a bone in his left hand against Scotland.

Lee Dickson, the Northampton scrum-half, is expected to be sidelined for four weeks after suffering the injury during his Test debut as a replacement in England’s 13-6 Calcutta Cup victory.

Toby Flood is in contention for a return to the England team for next weekend’s RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy after being recalled to the training squad.

Flood made his comeback from a knee ligament injury on Saturday, playing 30 minutes off the bench in Leicester’s 24-13 LV= Cup win over Newcastle.

The Tigers fly-half will have until Tuesday night, when England’s 32-man squad is trimmed down, to convince interim head coach Stuart Lancaster of his match fitness.

England are monitoring the shoulder injury that forced Charlie Hodgson to leave the field against Scotland.

Manu Tuilagi (hamstring), Courtney Lawes (knee) and Tom Wood (toe) are all unavailable for the game in Rome’s Olympic Stadium next Saturday.

Tuilagi is expected to resume training with Leicester this week and is on course to be available for England’s first home game of the Six Nations, against Wales on February 25.

England are growing short of available scrum-halves, with Richard Wigglesworth injured and Danny Care suspended following his arrest for drink-driving.

Karl Dickson, Care’s understudy at Harlequins, has started only five games for his club this season and made only one appearance since the middle of November.

The 29-year-old joins joins Ben Youngs, who started at Murrayfield, and Wasps’ Joe Simpson as England’s scrum-half options for the Italy game.

Wales boss Warren Gatland admitted his team “got out of jail” after they claimed a dramatic RBS 6 Nations victory over shell-shocked Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

The visitors triumphed 23-21, courtesy of Leigh Halfpenny’s 80th-minute penalty, which was awarded by English referee Wayne Barnes when Irish flanker Stephen Ferris tip-tackled Ian Evans.

Ferris received a yellow card, as did Wales lock Bradley Davies earlier in the game, although Davies’ tackle on Donacha Ryan was far more serious and looks certain to see him cited and banned.

Wales outscored Ireland 3-2 on tries, and then Halfpenny came up trumps under colossal pressure to send his team on the march towards a possible Six Nations title and Grand Slam.