Six Nations: England scrum-half Willi Heinz out of match with Italy

Willi Heinz kicks the ball
Willi Heinz has 13 England caps
Guinness Six Nations: Italy v England
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 31 October Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 Live with live text on BBC Sport website and app
Highlights: Watch on BBC Sport website and app after the match.

Scrum-half Willi Heinz has been ruled out of England's Six Nations finale against Italy with a leg injury.

Northampton's Alex Mitchell, 23, has been called up, with Wasps' Dan Robson and Leicester's Ben Youngs already in the 36-man group.

Uncapped Mitchell had been named in an earlier England training squad.

England could seal the Six Nations title with a win against Italy on Saturday if the result of France v Ireland goes their way.

"We'll see how he recovers this week," England defence coach John Mitchell said of Heinz's "soft-tissue injury".

"It's important that we get on top of it. Soft-tissue injuries can be very tricky so you can't afford to be too hasty."

Youngs, 31, is set to earn his 100th England cap on Saturday, while Robson will be hoping to win his third.

Gloucester's Heinz, 33, was a surprise inclusion in head coach Eddie Jones' 2019 World Cup squad but has since become an England regular.

Bath scrum-half Ben Spencer - who flew to Japan as injury cover for Heinz ahead of the World Cup final - continues to be overlooked by Jones despite his impressive recent Premiership performances.

'Important for uncapped players to manage pressure' - Mitchell

Alex Mitchell passes the ball
Alex Mitchell was picked for an England training camp earlier in October

Alex Mitchell becomes the 10th uncapped player in Jones' squad, with the England coach set to name his matchday 23 on Thursday.

But Heinz joins a growing list of unavailable players, with Exeter hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie, club-mate Jack Nowell, Saracens' Elliot Daly, Leicester fly-half George Ford and Harlequins prop Joe Marler also out of the game in Rome.

Northampton lock Courtney Lawes and Sale centre Manu Tuilagi are long-term absentees.

Several younger players may get their first chance to represent their country in Rome and defence coach Mitchell explained how staff will support England debutants.

"It's really important to understand their character and how they are managing the pressure," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"The more you know your player, then you can support them. Having youth and new players, energy with experience is a very potent and healthy mix to have."

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