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Owen Farrell fitness boost for England ahead of Six Nations opener

Owen Farrell has said that he expects to recover from a thumb injury in time to captain England in their opening Six Nations encounter with Ireland in Dublin on February 2.

Farrell had surgery on an injured tendon last Saturday, causing him to pull out of Saracens’ Champions Cup game against Glasgow at the weekend. His club had warned that he would be out of action for seven to ten days putting his participation in the match against the reigning Grand Slam champions in doubt.

Speaking at the official Six Nations launch in London, Farrell said that he expects to be available against the Irish.

‘I’m confident, yes.’ said Farrell. ‘The hand is good. I had something small done to it on the weekend. I should be training towards the end of this week. It was a gradual thing and is something small.’

England coach Eddie Jones has opted not to call up any extra cover to the squad as they prepare to fly out to a training camp in Portugal.

Should the Saracens man fail to recover, Jones will probably start Leicester’s George Ford at no.10 with Exeter’s Henry Slade another option.

‘I’m confident Owen is going to play and we’ve got George there as well so we’re well stocked for 10s,” said Jones.

Farrell’s opposite number, Ireland’s Johnny Sexton is also confident of recovering in time for the February 2 match. This sets up a mouthwatering head to head between two of the world’s leading outside halves.

LARRY PORTER

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