George Ford will be given the chance to revive his international career after replacing Owen Farrell in England’s Six Nations training squad.
Farrell will miss at least the opener against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 5 because of an ankle issue and England have suffered another blow after Jonny May was forced to withdraw because of a knee injury.
May’s place in the 36-man group that gathered in Brighton on Monday is taken by Elliot Daly, who provides cover at wing, full-back and centre.
Squad update | Elliot Daly and George Ford have been called up to the squad and Nick Isiekwe joins as injury cover for Courtney Lawes.— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) January 24, 2022
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Courtney Lawes is unable to train this week due to concussion so Daly’s Saracens team-mate Nick Isiekwe has been called in as a replacement.
Lawes was expected to take over the captaincy in Farrell’s absence, reprising a role he performed with distinction during the autumn, but the flanker now faces a race against time to be fit for the visit to Edinburgh.
“Following Owen Farrell’s withdrawal from the squad, Eddie Jones will now name a new team captain ahead of the Calcutta Cup fixture,” a Rugby Football Union statement read.
The extent of May’s injury has yet to be revealed, but the PA news agency understands he is expected to miss at least the first two rounds against Scotland and Italy.
The 31-year-old has been a key attacking weapon for England over the last four years, running in a string of spectacular tries, but he must remain at Gloucester for treatment.
Daly was overlooked for the squad announced by Jones last week with the Australian head coach stating he needed more game time after recovering from a stress fracture, but he has been thrust back into the mix sooner than expected.
Freddie Steward has cemented his place as England’s first choice full-back – Daly’s old position – but the Saracen will compete against Jack Nowell, Max Malins, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Joe Marchant and Tommy Freeman for a place on the wing.
An update on Farrell’s return is expected this week, with the 30-year-old playmaker visiting a specialist on Monday to assess the severity of the injury sustained in training for Saracens.
He had just recovered from a two-month absence following surgery to his left ankle only to damage the same joint on his right leg as he was preparing to make his comeback against London Irish.
Marcus Smith has established himself as England’s first-choice fly-half but Ford will be hoping he can play a supporting role from the bench for the Six Nations.
The Leicester ringmaster has been in stellar form for the Tigers but had been frozen out by Jones as part of his team rebuild.