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England axes Marcus Smith

TEAM UPDATE: England omitted Marcus Smith from their training squad before next week’s Six Nations match against France, with George Ford returning to the fold.

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Smith began the Six Nations as England’s starting flyhalf before being dropped to the bench for rounds two and three.

It is possible that Smith will play no part against France at Twickenham on March 11.

Coach Steve Borthwick’s decision to drop Smith from the training squad opens the way for the return of Sale Sharks’ Ford for his first match for England since March 2022.

Ford, 29, fell out of favour under former coach Eddie Jones and then injured his Achilles in last year’s Premiership final when playing for Leicester.

Max Malins (ankle) is unavailable to train this week due to an injury.

Malins will join the squad this week for rehab work.

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Gloucester wing Jonny May has been called up to the squad, while Manu Tuilagi will train with the squad this week.

England has recovered from losing to Scotland in their opening Six Nations fixture by beating Italy and Wales.

England will next take on France at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, March 11.

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“This week we move our training camp to Brighton, as we meet up again after last weekend’s win in Cardiff,” Borthwick said.

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“The performance against Wales was pleasing in a number of important respects.

“It was good to see the hard work the squad have put in on the training field reflected in a deserved and hard-won victory.

“Reduced fallow week squad numbers, injuries and our wish for some players to have valuable game time minutes with their clubs, means that the squad gathered in Brighton has a slightly different feel to it.

“We are very pleased to welcome back Jonny May.

“The players and coaches alike are looking forward to another three days of focused training, before the full squad meets back up back at Pennyhill Park on Sunday, in anticipation of our continued preparations for the remainder of what is proving to be a magnificent Six Nations tournament.”

A number of England Under-20 players will also take part in a training session this week.

FULL SQUAD

FORWARDS: Ollie Chessum, Dan Cole, Ben Curry, Alex Dombrandt, Ben Earl, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, David Ribbans, Kyle Sinckler, Mako Vunipola, Jack Walker, Jack Willis.

BACKS: Henry Arundell, Owen Farrell, Tommy Freeman, George Ford, Ollie Lawrence, Jonny May, Alex Mitchell, Henry Slade, Freddie Steward, Jack van Poortvliet, Anthony Watson.

 

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