England: Marcus Smith in contention to face Ireland in huge Six Nations injury boost

Return: Marcus Smith (PA)
Return: Marcus Smith (PA)

Richard Wigglesworth has warned that Steve Borthwick will not be afraid to ring the changes when England host Ireland.

It is hoped Marcus Smith will be fit to face the Grand Slam-chasers on March 9, after calf trouble kept him out of the first three Six Nations matches. Alex Mitchell could recover from a knee ligament issue, too, which would boost the head coach's options.

Attack coach Wigglesworth hailed Borthwick's boldness in selection, which will be employed again as England look to hit back after Saturday's 30-21 defeat by Scotland.

"Steve has always picked tactically, he's probably not had as much credit as he deserves for being brave with some selections," said Wigglesworth. "If you go through the history of his coaching, you'd pick up some pretty bold selections."

Borthwick selected George Furbank at full-back ahead of the ultra-reliable Freddie Steward for the Scotland clash, but could easily restore the Leicester star to take on Ireland, with Furbank an option on the wing.

"I'm very hopeful that Marcus will be available for selection," said Borthwick. "We've had positive news on Alex Mitchell's injury, too, so hopefully he will feature in the latter part of the tournament."