Complete British News World

2024 Six Nations Championship: Englishman Marcus Smith is a doubt for the opening match with Italy

2024 Six Nations Championship: Englishman Marcus Smith is a doubt for the opening match with Italy

Fly-half Marcus Smith played at full-back for England during the World Cup
place: Olympic Stadium, Rome date: Saturday 3 February Starting: 14:15 GMT
coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra; Live text on the BBC Sport website and app; Watch live on ITV

Fly-half Marcus Smith is a major doubt for England's Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome on Saturday after sustaining an injury in training.

Smith left England's base in Girona on crutches on Monday afternoon and underwent a scan.

His absence could open the door for Northampton's Finn Smith, 21, to make his debut at the Olympic Stadium.

An update on Marcus Smith, who also played at full-back during the World Cup, is expected on Tuesday afternoon.

England are already missing the entire midfield axis that helped them reach the World Cup semi-finals and eventually finish third.

Fly-half Owen Farrell is unavailable due to personal reasons, Joe Marchant is ineligible for a move to France, while Ollie Lawrence and Manu Tuilagi are out injured.

The retirement of Courtney Laws also left a void in the back row, as did the injured Tom Curry, while Jonny May's retirement opened up a place on the wing.

It means head coach Steve Borthwick is set to make a number of new internationals in his squad on match day, with Finn Smith's Northampton team-mate Fraser Dingwall likely to start at midfield.

However, England captain Jamie George said he has full confidence in who will be chosen.

“I was very impressed with what I saw from the boys,” George told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

He added: “But I knew that coming to the camp was because of the way the English teams perform and compete in the English Premier League.”

Danny Kerr added: “The excitement and opportunity in this team is phenomenal.”

“I've always said this team will take off after the World Cup.”

England is scheduled to confirm its lineup to face the Azzurri on Thursday evening.