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England name Mako Vunipola in training squad ahead of Wales clash

Eddie Jones had stated that Vunipola was unlikely to be in contention for the Grand Slam champions’ visit to Twickenham.

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Mako Vunipola could start against Wales (Adam Davy/PA)

Mako Vunipola could start against Wales (Adam Davy/PA)

Mako Vunipola could start against Wales (Adam Davy/PA)

Mako Vunipola is available for England’s Guinness Six Nations clash with Wales after being named in an extended 34-man training squad.

Eddie Jones had stated that Vunipola was unlikely to be in contention for the Grand Slam champions’ visit to Twickenham on Saturday after travelling to Tonga for unspecified personal reasons.

But the powerful Saracens prop is back at England’s Surrey training base ahead of schedule and will compete for loosehead duties with Joe Marler and Ellis Genge.

In a further boost to hopes of snatching the title, wing Anthony Watson and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie are present among the 34 names who will assemble on Monday.

Watson has yet to appear in the 2020 Six Nations because of a calf injury but he has made progress in his recovery and is now staking a claim for a back three slot for the penultimate round.

Cowan-Dickie, the in-form Exeter hooker, has been in and out of camp throughout the competition and missed the victory over Scotland due to the premature birth of his son.

For the first time in this Six Nations, Jones has picked a third scrum-half behind Ben Youngs and Willi Heinz.

Jack Maunder has not been seen since winning his solitary cap on the 2017 tour to Argentina but the Exeter Chief now has the opportunity to force his way into the 23.

Jones has been reluctant to choose a third scrum-half, so Maunder’s presence represents a change in thinking from the head coach.

Mark Wilson came through last week’s camp in Oxford and is challenging for a back row spot as he continues his comeback from a knee injury.

PA