George Ford has been part of England’s health and fitness screening camp in recent days, with the fly half expected to return from injury in the coming weeks.
Ford has not played for the Leicester Tigers since joining the Sale Sharks in the summer, breaking his Achilles in the first half of last season’s Gallagher Premiership final. But it turns out the 29-year-old is weeks away from taking action for Sale, who is now second only to the Saracens in the Premiership.
While there is an outside chance for Ford to return for Sale’s Champions Cup match against Ulster on 21 January, he is more likely to play in the club’s Premiership match against Bath the following week on 28 January.
If that’s the case and Ford comes back against Bath, then Number 10 will have a single game going to the Six Nations after a seven-month hiatus before England’s opening game against Scotland on 4 February.
New England assistant coach Kevin Sinfield spoke on Tuesday about the possibility of working with Ford at England’s camp in Gloucester. The other UK camp took place in Liverpool.
“I’m really excited about what this team can do. I sat in one room today and yesterday and saw the quality of players we had. I saw the likes of Owen Farrell and George Ford working together. Unfortunately, Marcus Smith is not here today. Look at the quality we have, 10′ in.”
Other key players seen in footage from England’s training camps include former captain Courtney Lawes, who has not played Test since the Australian summer tour, and Ben Earl of Saracens, who was named Premiership player for the 2021-22 season. He has not played for England since the 2021 Six Nations. In-form London Irish winger Tom Pearson was also in attendance.
The sale also expects the raffi Quirke to go on sale around the same time as Ford, with Quirke being excluded since November for a broken wrist. The timing of Ford and Quirke’s return will only reinforce the already impressive title fee from Sale.
Sale defensive coach Mike Forshaw told the BBC after his convincing win over the Leicester Tigers on Friday: “You have to look at who’s sitting on the podium. [for us], George Ford, worldwide 10, Raffi Quirke, UK scrum-half, Bevan Rodd. It’s an interesting possibility that that gunner will come back with what we already have.”