Marcus Smith and Alex Mitchell return to England squad for Ireland challenge

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:England;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">England</a>’s Marcus Smith is expected to compete with George Ford for the No 10 spot against Ireland.</span><span>Photograph: Adam Davy/PA</span>

England have been handed a major boost with Marcus Smith and Alex ­Mitchell back in the fold for the ­daunting Six Nations clash with Ireland on Satur­day after both were deemed fit enough to rejoin the squad.

Smith and Mitchell attended the training camp in York last week to continue their rehabilitation from injury and both were named on Sunday night in Steve Borthwick’s 36-man squad to face Ireland.

Related: Cunningham-South’s England journey guided by father’s WhatsApp critiques

Smith has not featured in the Six Nations to date after ­sustaining a calf injury at England’s ­pre-tournament training camp in Girona. It is ­understood Borthwick was due to back the 25‑year-old as his first‑choice fly-half for the entire tournament – following the decision by Owen Farrell to make himself unavailable – making his calf injury all the more untimely.

George Ford was then installed as England’s No 10, performing ­solidly against Italy and Wales before ­enduring a difficult afternoon against ­Scotland. Smith could also come into the ­equation at full-back – where he was predominantly used during the World Cup – but the expectation is he is now vying with Ford for the fly‑half spot.

Mitchell, meanwhile, sustained a knee injury before the ­defeat at ­Murrayfield but, despite fears the 26-year-old may miss the remainder of the tournament, he has also been added to Borthwick’s squad.

Mitchell’s return is a consi­derable boost given his form in ­England’s two Six Nations victories to date. He is one of three scrum‑halves in the squad, alongside Ben Spencer and Danny Care. The latter is hoping to win his 100th cap against Ireland – he would become only the sixth men’s player to reach that landmark –and though he started against Scotland, like Ford he endured a tough afternoon and is expected to return to the bench.

With Smith and Mitchell available, Borthwick now has what he intended to be his first-choice half-backs at his disposal. If he selects them, how they look to ignite England’s misfiring attack will be crucial to their chances against Ireland, who have swept all before them to date and are on course for a second successive grand slam. England began well in attack against Scotland but fell to pieces after the opening quarter, with Maro Itoje subsequently hitting out at his teammates for playing “tip-tap rugby” and “hot potato”.

Immanuel Feyi‑Waboso, meanwhile, has rejoined the squad after missing the camp in York last week because he needed to sit a medical exam in person. He was replaced by Will Muir last week and the Bath wing will remain with the squad with Tom Pearson, Max Ojomoh and Harry Randall dropping out.