06 February, 2018
"It's too early to make any sort of prediction but I'm always optimistic", he added.
Eddie Jones, the title-holders' Australian coach, said the Lions' gruelling drawn series in New Zealand past year partly explained the injury toll.
Ben Te'o has made a quick return to fitness following an ankle injury and is preferred at centre, alongside Owen Farrell, to Jonathan Joseph.
Nevertheless, an Italy side where seven players were making their tournament debuts, while veteran Alessandro Zanni was winning his 100th cap, hit back with a 20th-minute try.
Jones has tried to play down England's chances, even though he can still call upon the likes of fly-half Owen Farrell, by installing Ireland, who inflicted the only defeat so far on his Red Rose record when denying them a second straight Grand Slam in Dublin last March, as Six Nations favourites.
The scrum-half was taken away on a motorised scooter and will have scans on Monday
"He is a humble boy, he's really fitted into the team well and his enthusiasm for ball carrying is going to be important on Sunday". "Conor O'Shea is doing a great job coaching them and it was a good tough game of rugby and we ran away with it in the end".
Farrell then went on to the blindside and took a well-timed pass from replacement scrumhalf Danny Care, before easing through another gap in the Italian defence for a try under the posts. "I think we have a better foundation than people understand in our game".
Owen Farrell missed the first two conversions but he racked up England's third try - only his sixth try in 54 global matches - and added the extras on that occasion as well as on his next three attempts.
England have never lost to Italy and this looks like being another mismatch.
The champions exploded out of the blocks by crossing twice through Anthony Watson inside the opening 10 minutes, but the overwhelming win their early onslaught appeared to signpost only materialised in the closing stages. "But our lads held out and we built and built", Farrell said.
The Harlequins playmaker said: "We want to win all five games".
Jones has suggested that the in-form Lawes could be switched to flanker when England begin their Six Nations campaign against Italy on Sunday, having praised the upturn in the Northampton Saint's consistency over the past few years.More news: South Africa: Zuma To Face Party Top Guns