Europe’s elite clubs count casualties as Champions Cup pressure swells

Many of the continent’s top clubs are blighted by injury going into this weekend’s fixtures, which is a worrying trend as the Six Nations nears
• Robert Kitson: patience with the scrum is running out

The Six Nations Championship may be three weeks away but the luxury of leisurely preparation is unavailable to Europe’s leading players. Every season it becomes easier to argue that, intensity-wise, very little separates the decisive latter rounds of Champions Cup pool matches and some international games. All Six Nations coaches keep their fingers tightly crossed at this time of year.

While England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are each due to name their squads next week there is no guarantee what state their respective troops will be in. Stuart Lancaster has already lost the services of Gloucester’s No8 Ben Morgan and will be keeping a particularly close eye on this weekend’s matches in Leicester, Twickenham, Toulouse and Swansea prior to Wednesday’s scheduled 33-man announcement.

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