England confident Owen Farrell will shake off concussion to be fit for Argentina clash

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

England are increasingly confident Owen Farrell will be passed fit to start Sunday’s Autumn Nations Series opener against Argentina.

The Saracens fly-half has moved solidly through his return-to-play protocols after a head injury at England’s Pennyhill Park training base this week.

The 31-year-old must pass two more checks on Thursday and Friday morning, and would then be available for selection for Eddie Jones’ side.

Attack coach Martin Gleeson admitted there would be “no question” the vastly-experienced Farrell could cope with jumping straight back into action after a 12-day concussion stand-down.

“Owen’s going through the last bits of his return-to-play, but everything’s gone according to plan so far,” said Gleeson. “He’s looked good, full of enthusiasm, just his normal self really.

“That process started a while back, he didn’t come to Jersey but we were in constant contact with him.

“Me, Owen and Marcus [Smith] work closely together as a three, and everything we’ve been doing has involved keeping Owen in the loop and he has an input on certain things as well. So he’s got by a lot of those stages by now, and he’s I think we’re not far off with him.

“Owen plays a big part. His partnership with Marcus is a big part of where we want to go as a team. They are four games in together and we want to build on that this autumn.”

Exeter playmaker Henry Slade would be likely to start at 12 should Farrell not recover in time, with Marcus Smith ready to take the backline reins at fly-half.

“We’ve had Henry Slade come into the camp who can slot into that role, and play a similar game with us to how we play with Owen,” said Gleeson.

“Sladey’s been in the environment a long time, and had a few games with Marcus last autumn and they were pretty successful as a partnership.

“So if Owen missed out, Sladey just comes in and fills that role no problem. And then we wouldn’t have to look to change the way we play.”

Exeter hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie continues to work back to fitness after a knee issue, while England still hold out hope for a remarkable comeback for Gloucester wing Jonny May.

May dislocated his elbow in Gloucester’s 22-21 Gallagher Premiership win at London Irish on Friday, October 21, but has shaken off the injury with surprising haste.

Asked quite how May has sprung such a quick return to selection contention, Gleeson replied: “He’s Jonny May, that’s what he does!

“His healing powers are unbelievable. He’s in a good spot and is potentially available for the wekend, but we’re not 100 per cent sure on that yet.

“Luke Cowan-Dickie took part in some of the session today, and like Owen, he’s progressing and ticking all the boxes so far. As it stands he’s still available.”