Fly-half Marcus Smith has been left out of England’s training squad ahead of their Six Nations match against France next week, with George Ford replacing him.
Smith’s absence from the 26-man squad means he will return to Harlequins and will not be included in the matchday squad to face France.
It also means that Sale’s Ford, who hasn’t played for England since March 2022, will make his long-awaited comeback.
On Saturday, 11 March, England will face France at Twickenham at 16:45 GMT.
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“I felt it was best for Marcus to get some game time,” head coach Steve Borthwick said.
“He’s had very little game time, so I thought this was a good step for him.”
Smith started England’s defeat to Scotland but was only a fill-in for the victories over Italy and Wales.
Meanwhile, Ford only recently returned to Sale after a long-standing Achilles injury, but his quick elevation over Smith demonstrates how highly he is regarded by Borthwick, with the fly-half a key member of Borthwick’s Leicester set-up that won the Premiership title last year.
“This country is blessed with some fantastic fly-halves,” Borthwick added.
“They all have different skill sets and qualities, which means England is in a great position of strength.
“George appears to be in excellent condition and is clearly a very experienced player.
“That adds to our strength in that position. I’m looking forward to seeing Marcus play this weekend, especially with Owen [Farrell] and Fin Smith – both of whom I’ve been very impressed with.
“So it demonstrates a position where we are fortunate to have a number of high-quality players.”