Chris Robshaw has been given the chance to make a late claim for Guinness Six Nations selection after being included in England’s training squad for the first time in the 2019 Championship.
Robshaw won the last of his 66 caps during the 2018 summer tour to South Africa but has missed out since due to a knee injury sustained in October.
The 32-year-old flanker has proved his fitness after making his comeback for Harlequins against Saracens on January 26 and is now present in the 31-man squad that will continue preparations for Saturday’s clash with Italy.
It appears unlikely, however, that he will have sufficient time to force himself into the frame against the Azzurri or the climax to the Six Nations against Scotland a week later.
England have been resurgent in his absence and have found a high-quality alternative at blindside flanker in Mark Wilson, while Eddie Jones also favours Brad Shields in the position.
Maro Itoje is included in the training squad for the first time since damaging a knee ligament against Ireland on February 2 and is expected to return against Italy as one of only three locks named in the 31.
Also present is Jonathan Joseph, the Bath centre who has been absent from the Test arena since last year’s Six Nations because of ankle surgery.
Joseph made his club comeback in January and travelled to Portugal with England for their pre-tournament training camp.