Six Nations 2018: Eddie Jones changes training schedule for injury-hit England squad
England's training schedule ahead of the Six Nations has been "changed considerably" to try to freshen up a fatigued and injury-hit squad.
Eddie Jones' side are currently training in Portugal, with a number of players nursing injuries following two bruising European weekends.
"We've done a mini pre-season, they won't start rugby until Thursday," said England head coach Jones.
"It's in the hope it makes the players a bit fresher."
Jones added: "It's how they respond [to the fatigue], and the mental part of the game is important."
England face Italy in Rome on Sunday, 4 February in their Six Nations opener.
There are doubts over a number of players' fitness for the game, while centre Henry Slade [shoulder] and prop Kyle Sinckler [hamstring] have both been ruled out.
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- Robshaw and Brown could miss Italy game
"Slade looks like it is three or four weeks [out], Sinckler maybe six to eight - they are still looking at," Jones told BBC 5 live.
Full-Back Mike Brown, with an eye injury, and flanker Chris Robshaw, with a back complaint, also face a race against time to be fit for the clash with the Azzurri.
"We think they will both be alright - Robshaw might be a bit more touch and go," added the England boss.
With Robshaw and Maro Itoje nursing niggles, England have been left with only a handful of rookie back-row forwards left standing in camp.
"I was watching the back-rowers train yesterday. We had four back-rowers train: Gary Graham, Sam Simmonds, Zach Mercer and Nick Isiekwe," Jones explained.
"The most capped players out of those guys is Nick Isiekwe - he's 19. He's failed his driving test five times. So he can't even drive anywhere, and he's our most experienced player.
"Hopefully we will get [Robshaw] back on the field, but it's a great opportunity for us to grow the team."
Meanwhile Exeter wing Jack Nowell is still "three to four weeks" away from a return from an ongoing ankle issue.
|England's injury list|
|Forwards: Tom Curry, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Nathan Hughes, Matt Mullan, Beno Obano, Kyle Sinckler, Will Spencer, Chris Robshaw, Billy Vunipola.|
|Backs: Mike Brown, Elliot Daly, Piers Francis, Jack Nowell, Semesa Rokoduguni, Henry Slade. (Ben Te'o is returning to fitness with England but has not played since October)|
Hear from Eddie Jones and a host of Six Nations coaches and captains on the Rugby Union Weekly Six Nations special, 5 live Sport on Thursday at 2030.