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Smith tips Corbisiero for England return

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith believes prop Alex Corbisiero could be one match away from an England return after making his first start of the season as the Exiles opened their LV=Cup campaign with a 34-28 home win over Sale Sharks.

The 24-year-old loosehead, who suffered a knee injury on England's summer tour of South Africa, played for 62 minutes before being withdrawn and turned in a solid performance.

"Alex has been in with the England camp so he knows what's going on there," Smith said. "If he puts in another good performance against Leicester next week I'm sure he'll be throwing his hat in the ring for England if they feel that Joe Marler needs a rest."

Smith revealed that Corbisiero played for longer than originally intended to help Irish turn the match around after trailing 21-10 at half-time.

"Had things been going better we would probably have only played him for the first 40 minutes," he said. "But we had half a dozen scrums on their line and he hung tough for us, but we got him out of the contest at the right point for him and for us."

Sale chief executive Steve Diamond, back in control of the team as director of rugby following the demotion of Bryan Redpath, said: "We're disappointed.

"One or two of our players showed their naivety, losing control when they were in control.

"We had three or four scrums on our own line and got out of it and then had a poor kick out which cost us.

"We had the game and should have won it, but we gave 19 soft points away. It was another of those occasions when we haven't capitalised on the position we are in."

Diamond added: "It was good to get the (losing) bonus point at the end but I was disappointed with our second-half performance."

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