Marcus Smith could get England chance against Ireland with Fin Smith doubtful

Marcus Smith at an England training session during 2024 Six Nations Marcus Smith is fit again (Adam Davy/PA)

Fin Smith is a major doubt for England’s clash with Ireland on Saturday with Marcus Smith ready to step into the breach for the penultimate round of the Six Nations.

Fin Smith was the solitary member of Steve Borthwick’s squad to miss training on Tuesday as he recovers from a calf injury and with only Thursday’s main session left before the Twickenham showdown, time is running out to prove his fitness.

The 21-year-old fly-half has won his first two caps in his breakthrough season for England, coming on as a replacement for George Ford against Italy and Scotland, but could now slip out of the 23.

“We have tried to look after him the last couple of days and we are hoping he will be in full training on Thursday. We are looking after him,” skills and kicking coach Kevin Sinfield said.

If Fin Smith is unable to convince Borthwick on Thursday that he is capable of facing Grand Slam-chasing Ireland, Marcus Smith is available to take his place on the bench.

The Harlequins player missed the first three rounds of the tournament, also because of calf damage, but could even challenge Ford for a place in the starting XV if Borthwick decides significant changes are needed in response to the 30-21 mauling by Scotland.

“Fly-half is a position where we have plenty of strength so Steve will make that call on Thursday after the session. If everyone comes through on Thursday, Steve has obviously got a headache,” Sinfield said.

“To have Marcus available having not had him available throughout the Six Nations is a big boost for everybody.

“Not only with what he brings on the field, but off the field as well. He has got some bounce about him, a big smile and he loves being out on the training field. He has had a big impact this week.

“He comes in and is himself all the time so we missed him in those first few weeks. I’ve loved working with him and he’s an incredible talent. He can play, that boy.”

Borthwick names his team on Thursday afternoon and England’s head coach will be hoping for a response after the backwards step taken at Murrayfield.

The most damning statistic to emerge from a fourth successive Calcutta Cup defeat was the 25 handling errors made, a staggering number that prevented their attack from functioning.

“That was an anomaly for us. We certainly haven’t seen that throughout training at all,” Sinfield said.

“We’ve worked particularly hard in trying to understand why it happened. Some of it is difficult to understand.

“When you’re trying to understand why someone’s dropped a ball, or someone’s thrown a pass without looking where the pass is going, there’s a bit more to it than the numbers.

“We’re trying to understand the people, what they are feeling and what they are seeing at that moment in time. So we’ve delved pretty deep into that.

“We put some balls down in the Scotland game, why that is we’ll never know for sure. But what we have to try to make sure is that it doesn’t happen again.”

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