Saracens wing Chris Ashton is facing Six Nations sweat
Saracens wing Chris Ashton's hopes of an England recall in the opening exchanges of this season's RBS Six Nations Championship are in the balance.
Prolific try-scorer Ashton, who won the last of his 39 England caps in New Zealand more than 18 months ago, has been cited for allegedly making contact with the "eye(s) and/or eye area" of Ulster centre Luke Marshall during Saturday's European Champions Cup match at Allianz Park.
If found guilty of the offence, Ashton could face a ban of around 12 weeks or more, and if that happens, he would miss the entire Six Nations tournament, which begins for England against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 6.
Ashton has been widely backed to make the starting line-up for new coach Eddie Jones' first game in charge, but his immediate prospects now rest on a disciplinary hearing which will take place tomorrow.
"EPCR has received a citing complaint against the Saracens wing, Chris Ashton (No.14), following the European Rugby Champions Cup Round 5 match against Ulster Rugby on Saturday, 16 January 2016," a European Professional Club Rugby statement read. "Ashton is alleged to have made contact with the eye(s) and/or eye area of the Ulster centre, Luke Marshall (No.13), in the 16th minute of the match in contravention of Law 10.4 (m)."
Marshall was one of two Ulster tacklers tying up Saracens full-back Ben Ransom early on in Saracens' 33-17 triumph, with the incident coming as Ashton tried to keep the ball alive for his side.
It was spotted by the citing commissioner and the 28-year-old will see if his chances of playing for England for the first time since June 2014 have been dealt a blow.