The winger has been replaced by Jonny May

England have been handed a huge injury blow just over two weeks from the start of their Rugby World Cup campaign after Anthony Watson was ruled out of the tournament with a calf injury.

Watson suffered the problem in the 29-10 defeat to Ireland in Dublin on Saturday and was forced from the field at the Aviva Stadium late in the second half. It is a cruel development for the winger who is currently unattached and without a club.

Read more: England Rugby World Cup squad

Watson has been replaced by Jonny May this weekend with the Gloucester winger starting against Fiji on Saturday. No final decision on who will be called up to the 33-man squad has been made yet with Joe Cokanasiga also in the frame.

Elliot Daly is also out of the side to face the Flying Fijians at Twickenham, however, head coach Steve Borthwick suggested the Saracens man would return to fitness for the “start of the World Cup” despite a knee injury.

Another back three injury concern is Racing’s Henry Arundell who was unavailable for selection against the Pacific Islanders with a back problem but is also expected to be ready for the tournament. Freddie Steward starts again at full-back with May joined by Max Malins on the other wing.

Related: Vunipola ban comes hot on the heels of Farrell decision

The injury concerns have only compounded Borthwick’s problems after his plans were hit by two key suspensions. Captain Owen Farrell will miss the first two games against Argentina and Japan after World Rugby successfully appealed the decision to downgrade his red card against Wales to yellow.

Farrell’s Saracens team-mate Billy Vunipola, the only specialist No 8 in Borthwick’s 33-man squad, will sit out the opener against the Pumas. However, he should be available to face Japan upon completion of World Rugby’s tackle school after he was handed a three-game ban (which can be reduced to two) following his red card against Ireland.

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