Wasps forward Jack Willis fighting to be fit for Bath clash after hip injury

England flanker Jack Willis is hopeful of being available for Wasps’ Gallagher Premiership clash with Bath after making encouraging progress in his recovery from a hip injury.

Willis failed to appear for the second half of Saturday’s 34-5 victory over Exeter after being hurt during a pick and go as Wasps pounded away at the double winners’ line.

The 24-year-old could be ready for Friday’s trip to the Recreation Ground, but if he does not recover then the return of Brad Shields will be seen as a timely boost.

Shields has not played since the opening weekend of the season due to an ankle problem, and the England forward is in contention against Bath.

“Jack isn’t ruled out yet, which is positive. He’s still in with a shot for the weekend and hasn’t ruled himself out. He’d love to play and how the next 48 hours go is key,” defence coach Ian Costello said.

“He picked up a bang on his hip and when you get a hit there your back can tighten up, your glute can tighten up. He had a good 24 hours afterwards and that’s usually a decent gauge.

“Brad Shields comes back into the mix, as does Marcus Watson and Matteo Minozzi. If they come through training [Tuesday] all three will be available for selection as well.”

Winger Zach Kibirige was knocked out against Sale on December 27 and although he has passed his return to play protocols, the decision has been made to give him an additional week’s rest.

England prospect Alfie Barbeary on Monday underwent surgery on his high ankle injury and is expected to be out for between six to 12 weeks.

Wasps inflict Exeter’s first loss since October

On Saturday, Wasps avenged last season’s Gallagher Premiership final heartache with victory over the champions – Exeter’s first defeat since October.

BOOM! That's what I'm talking about!

🐝 34 – 5 🏹 pic.twitter.com/w9scDwl9E1

Once again the Ricoh Arena proved to be an unhappy hunting ground for the Chiefs, who paid the price for resting internationals Luke Cowan-Dickie, Harry Williams, Jonny Gray, Jonny Hill, Sam Skinner and Henry Slade.

Their most recent defeat came at the same venue almost three months ago – albeit after fielding a shadow team – and over the weekend they failed to live with the speed and energy of a Wasps side armed with a point to prove after succumbing 19-13 in the Twickenham showpiece in October.

Flanker James Gaskell and prop Simon McIntyre each crossed twice and there was also a try for full-back Lima Sopoaga. The bonus point was secured with 12 minutes left and two of the touchdowns were high quality.

Wasps, brilliantly directed by half-backs Dan Robson and Jacob Umaga and led by man of the match Joe Launchbury, were utterly dominant for the final half-hour as Exeter’s perfect start to the league came to a shuddering halt.

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