Marcus Smith left out of England training squad as George Ford returns to fold

England boss Steve Borthwick has sprung a surprise in selection by dropping Marcus Smith to accommodate the likely return of George Ford against France.

Smith has been left out of a 26-man training squad for this week’s camp in Brighton having begun the Guinness Six Nations as starting fly-half before spending rounds two and three on the bench.

It is possible that the 24-year-old will miss out on facing France on Saturday week and Ireland on March 18 altogether with Borthwick now having the option of revisiting the Ford-Owen Farrell creative axis that has worked for England in the past.

England RFU Training – Twickenham Stadium – Friday March 11th
Marcus Smith (left) has been omitted by England as George Ford (right) returns (Steve Parsons/PA)

Ford won the last of his 81 caps against France in last year’s Six Nations but his most recent start was in the same tournament a year earlier.The 29-year-old had fallen out of favour under Eddie Jones and then injured his Achilles the 2022 Gallagher Premiership final, after which he left Leicester for Sale and has only made his comeback with 151 minutes across three appearances.

Ford enjoyed one of his most successful seasons working under Borthwick before England’s new head coach left his post as Tigers boss for Twickenham in December.