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Underhill injury could be blow for England

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    03 Jan 2019     Getty Images

Underhill, 22, whose late try against the All Blacks at Twickenham in November was ruled out due to an earlier off-side infringement by lock Courtney Lawes and denied England a possible win, was injured playing for Bath in their 23-16 win over Leicester at the weekend.

The Todd Blackadder-coached Bath side moved up the Premiership ladder to fifth as a result of the win but lost both Underhill and lock Matt Garvey to ankle injuries. Garvey broke his ankle and is out for three months while Underhill suffered ligament damage.

It was expected Underhill could be out for six weeks which would mean he would miss, at least, the start of the Six Nations which begins on February 2 when England travel to Dublin to play Ireland.

Underhill, who has nine caps, made three appearances on the open side of England's scrum during the November series and was seen as an answer to the side's problems in that position.

Also racing to recover in time for the Six Nations is fellow Bath player, wing Joe Cokanasiga who suffered a knee medial ligament injury and is on target to play again two weeks before the Six Nations start.

Meanwhile, Blackadder told Somersetlive.co.uk that 2019 can be a good year for his side.

"Our ambition has always been to win something and that hasn't changed. We've been through a rough patch, but I feel we're in a much better place now.

"My first two seasons in charge felt a bit uncontrollable at times because we were ravaged by so many injuries. We've now got to a point where we're aligned in understanding what we need to do and what works for us on the field.

"I feel we're starting to get an identity in the way we play. The players are working harder for each other and it's starting to translate into some good performances," he said.

Bath are due to play Worcester at the weekend and a win would round out a good block of games before a five-week break for Champions Cup and Premiership Rugby Cup competitions.

"This match is vital for us. Not only the result, but we really want to continue building on our performances. The signs have been really encouraging in recent weeks, but first and foremost we have to keep doing our basics well to compete," he said.