Simpson hoping for World Cup berth
Joe Simpson admits he is "a long shot" to make England's 31-man World Cup squad - but the Wasps scrum-half has no intention of throwing in the towel.
Simpson is set to resume full training next week after suffering a knee injury towards the end of Wasps' Aviva Premiership campaign in May.
The untimely setback meant he was not named in England head coach Stuart Lancaster's extended World Cup training group, with Ben Youngs, Richard Wigglesworth, Danny Care and Lee Dickson the current number nines battling for probably three places when the final squad is announced late next month.
But Simpson, who has been spurred on by an encouraging message from 2003 England World Cup winner Phil Vickery, hopes he can still force his way into the selection reckoning.
An explosive runner and prolific try-scorer, 27-year-old Simpson won his solitary England cap at the last World Cup four years ago after Care was ruled out of contention due to injury.
"If everything goes to plan, I will be fully fit," Simpson said.
"The physios are telling me to calm down, to slow down, but I am desperate to push on. They have got their timescale, and they will make sure that I am firing on all cylinders when they give me the all-clear.
"I had a nice message from Phil Vickery, who reminded a few of us that you can never tell what might happen. So don't lose hope.
"I have always been one to look on the positive side of things. Negative makes you old, boring and grumpy, so I want to stay youthful and enjoy myself, so I am keeping hope and giving myself a shot. That is all I can do in my position."
England coach Andy Farrell contacted Simpson the day before the training squad announcement, which gave him cause for optimism as he attempts to make a late run and potentially nudge Care and Dickson out of contention and claim the third number nine spot behind pace-setters Youngs and Wigglesworth.
"If I had been part of the squad from the start, then who knows?" Simpson added.
"I have my work cut out now. I know I am a long shot, but I have the possibility of being called up into an England training camp, and that for me is special and gives me great drive.
"Ben Youngs had a fantastic year for England, so he will be number one. Richard Wigglesworth will probably be number two, and then the third spot is to scrap for.
"The other two nines I am competing against haven't been at the top of their game this season, probably by their own accounts.
"Dickson has probably fallen away slightly with his (club) competition with (Kahn) Fotuali'i, but he is still a great player and he has been above me for the last three years, so I know what a good player he is.
"At the same time, I feel my form does give me an opportunity to put myself in the mix - probably not for a starting place if we are honest - but as a squad player and possibly an impact player off the bench.
"That could possibly be my role if I was lucky enough to get called up into the squad."