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Six Nations: England player Marcus Smith is in contention to face Ireland after a calf injury

Six Nations: England player Marcus Smith is in contention to face Ireland after a calf injury

  • Written by Chris Jones
  • BBC rugby union correspondent

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Marcus Smith with English physiotherapist Bob Stewart during an open training session last month

Guinness Six Nations: England v Ireland

place: Twickenham date: Saturday 9 March Starting: 16:45 GMT

coverage: Listen to the live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live from 16:45 GMT; Follow text updates and video highlights on the BBC Sport website and app.

Marcus Smith is back in the England squad and in contention to face Ireland in the Six Nations on Saturday.

Smith, 25, has not yet competed in the tournament due to a calf injury.

Scrum-half Alex Mitchell is also available after a knee problem ruled him out of the defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.

England will play Ireland in the Grand Slam at Twickenham at 16:45 GMT on Saturday.

Smith was on course to play a leading role in the Six Nations but suffered a calf injury in training ahead of the opening match against Italy at the start of February.

In his absence, Sale's George Ford has worn the No.10 shirt in England's three matches so far, while Northampton's Finn Smith made his international debut as a substitute.

Head coach Steve Borthwick now faces a decision on whether to bring Marcus Smith straight back into the team for the visit of the undefeated Irish.

Meanwhile, Mitchell established himself as England's first choice at last autumn's World Cup and is expected to return to the matchday squad if he can prove his sharpness in training this week.

Mitchell's return means Harry Randall leaves the wider 36-man group, with Danny Kerr and Ben Spencer the other halves of the party.

Winger Emmanuel Faye-Waboso also returns to the team after missing training camp last week due to a university exam.

video caption,

Six Nations 2024: BBC Rugby team playing traitors

“Ireland was the favourite”

England's Six Nations campaign was derailed after a crushing 30-21 defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield, and Borthwick's side now need to beat either Ireland or France to salvage their campaign.

But with the visitors heavily favored this weekend, Ireland great Jimmy Heaslip told the Daily Rugby Union podcast he is struggling to see an upset at Twickenham.

Ireland have won their past four Tests against England and have won at Twickenham five times in the Six Nations era.

“I think England have amazingly talented players, but I don't think the England team plays to the strengths of those players,” Heaslip said.

“I think they're playing a style that doesn't suit them, and I think Ireland will exploit a lot of chinks in the armor there.

“Ireland being favorites doesn't affect these guys, they're well used to it.

“They won't be afraid to come there [Twickenham]They have won there consistently and have beaten England consistently over the last period.

“But they've been in the position England are in and they're fully aware that people can pull it out of the bag. That's why complacency won't show up.”

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