England fly-half Marcus Smith a doubt to face Tonga with leg injury

Eddie Jones has suffered an unwanted setback in the build-up to England 's clash against Tonga on Saturday after revealing fly-half Marcus Smith is battling a leg injury.

Much of the talk concerning England's autumn schedule has revolved around whether or not the Harlequins talisman—who led the club to last season's Premiership title—would start at fly-half at Twickenham.

Jones, 61, has retained Owen Farrell as Red Rose captain despite a swell of support for Smith, suggesting the tactician still has faith in the Saracens shot-caller.

But the decision may end up being made for Jones after he revealed Smith isn't fully fit with only a few days of preparation until the team hosts Tonga.

Despite the news, Jones is 'optimistic' that Smith will be able to play some part against Tonga at Twickenham.

“We have got a few injury updates for you,” Jones told reporters in Tuesday's press briefing.

“We had Max Malins and Raffi Quirke come into camp with injuries so they have been rehabbing, they won’t be considered for selection for the Tongan game but we are hopeful they are going to be fitter further down the track.

“Louis Lynagh came in a bit beaten up from his game against Saracens and has not been able to train with us. We have got two other niggles and we are not sure whether the players are going to be available to be selected. Marcus and Freddie Steward have got minor leg injuries but we are cautiously optimistic they will be available for selection for the game against Tonga.”

These autumn internationals have been touted as a potential turning point for England, who are out for redemption after finishing fifth at this year's Six Nations.

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Jones already made a number of surprise selections after leaving Leicester Tigers fly-half George Ford out of his squad, along with Saracens stars Billy and Mako Vunipola, and Ben Earl.

Smith, 22, earned his England Test debut in July and was swiftly called up to the British and Irish Lions squad in South Africa as injury cover for Scotland 's Finn Russell.

It's been speculated that 93-cap veteran Farrell, 30, could be deployed at inside centre in order to make room for Smith in the No. 10 jersey.

Despite the late disruption, Jones insisted such setbacks were to be expected in rugby, assuring Smith will receive chances during the month of November, even if he's not fit to play a part against Tonga.

The Red Rose will also host Australia (November 13) and reigning world champions South Africa (November 20) in the coming weeks.

"We are never desperate, but we are keen for him to be involved in the game," the coach added.

"It is not frustrating – it is part and parcel of preparing a team. He will recover well and if we don't get to see him this week we will see him next week."

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