England’s likely captain Lewis Moody should be fit for the autumn internationals.
The 2005 Lion injured his eye socket during Bath’s Aviva Premiership defeat to Gloucester on October 1 and was expected to be sidelined for four weeks.
But England team manager and former Lions skipper Martin Johnson believes there is a chance Moody could play for Bath against his old club Leicester this weekend.
And even if Moody misses a return to Welford Road, he is likely to be released from teh England training camp to feature against Harlequins at The Rec a week later.
That would give the all-action openside valuable game time before the All Blacks arrive at Twickenham on November 6.
"Lewis is pretty good. We anticipate him being fit for rugby [in time for the New Zealand game]," said Johnson, who is yet to officially confirm his captain for the November Tests.
"I don't know if he will play this week, it's touch and go – but he will possibly play the week after."
England go into the encounter with New Zealand on the back of a rare win in Australia.
The second-Test victory over the Wallabies in Sydney gave Johnson’s men a huge confidence boost and the World Cup winning captain now hopes England can push on this autumn.
"They have been through some tough losses – a two-point defeat by the Grand Slam champions, and against Australia in Perth was disappointing because we didn't play as well as we can for the whole game," added Johnson.
"The Sydney win came out of those times. We will have bumps on the road but that strength of spirit is coming now.
"You saw the improvement game-on-game in Australia. You have to play the best in the world if you want to challenge. The team is going in the right direction.
"We don't want to have to have a bad performance to spark a good one. We need consistency.
"We will need to be tough again because there will be defeats between now and the World Cup unless it goes brilliantly well. We need to keep reminding ourselves we can get confidence from good performances and if we do that the results should follow."