Brighton fire and Marler positive test hit England preparations for Six Nations

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England suffered a blow to preparations for their Six Nations opener against Scotland after Joe Marler tested positive for COVID-19, while a fire near the team hotel also caused disruption.

Eddie Jones is readying his side for the Calcutta Cup tussle at Murrayfield on February 5, as England bid to improve on last season's disappointing Six Nations performance.

The Red Rose finished fifth in the tournament after just two wins, and preparations for this year's edition have been hit by injury, with captain Owen Farrell set to miss the Scotland game.

Courtney Lawes – initially one of the favourites to deputise as captain – is sitting out training this week because of head injury protocols. Nick Isiekwe has joined up with the squad as cover for Lawes, while George Ford has also been added, and it was revealed on Monday that Elliot Daly is in for Jonny May, who is out with a knee injury.

England announced a fresh blow, with a team statement saying: "Joe Marler has tested positive for COVID and has withdrawn from the training camp in Brighton. All of the other England players and staff have undergone daily lateral flow testing – all of which returned negative results."

England are training in Brighton this week; however, a suspected electrical fire close to their seafront hotel on Tuesday caused the team to seek alternative accommodation, with a 30-metre cordon enforced and nearby premises evacuated.

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