England: Fitness boost for Steve Borthwick as Marcus Smith one of four back from injury this weekend

Marcus Smith Credit: Alamy
Marcus Smith Credit: Alamy

England head coach Steve Borthwick has received a boost as the Six Nations looms large, with a quartet of internationals back from injury this weekend.

Fly-half Marcus Smith has been named in Harlequins’ starting team for their Champions Cup clash with Racing 92 in Paris, as he makes his long-awaited return.

Smith is set to go up against Scotland playmaker Finn Russell in their fixture at Paris La Defense Arena in what promises to be a fascinating watch this Sunday.

Russell versus Smith on Sunday

Borthwick will be intrigued to see how Smith hits the ground running after such a long stint out of the game due to injury, with this a tricky comeback match.

He reforms the impressive 8, 9, 10 link-up with Alex Dombrandt and Danny Care, with the latter duo certainly not out of the selection race for the Six Nations.

Staying with the half-backs, Borthwick will also be keeping a close eye on Raffi Quirke when he comes off the bench for Sale Sharks against Toulouse on Saturday.

Quirke features for the first time since breaking his wrist against Gloucester back in November and will be desperate to put his rotten injury luck behind him.

The scrum-half stocks are also bolstered by Harry Randall‘s return for Bristol Bears in their Challenge Cup clash with Zebre Parma at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Randall has been named in the Bears’ starting XV by director of rugby Pat Lam and, like Quirke, will be hoping to impress Borthwick before the Six Nations.

Current England starter Jack van Poortvliet has been included on the bench for Leicester Tigers this weekend, with Ben Youngs starting and skippering.

Courtney Lawes starts for Saints

In the forwards, the absence of Tom Curry for Sale was expected after last weekend’s injury but England fans will be comforted by Courtney Lawes‘ comeback.

The England and British & Irish Lions back-row starts on the openside flank for Northampton as they head to Munster looking to claim their first pool victory.

Saints currently have a two loss from two games record in the Champions Cup and name David Ribbans, who spoke exclusively to us about his hopes for 2023.

Elsewhere, there is of course no Owen Farrell for Saracens due his suspension so Alex Goode fills in at number 10, with Elliot Daly the full-back against Lyon.

With Borthwick expected to announce his squad for the 2023 Six Nations on Monday, this is the final opportunity for players to stake their claim for selection.

READ MORE: Joey Carbery at 10 for Munster, Courtney Lawes starts for Northampton while Marcus Smith back for Harlequins

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