George Ford may get England recall as rugby bosses vote on Six Nations overhaul
Leicester Tigers fly-half George Ford may be offered a route back into the England team if plans succeed for Eddie Jones to be allowed an expanded squad for the upcoming Six Nations.
That's after the Mail on Sunday reported the Professional Game Board is set to consider a proposal permitting Jones to pick 32 players, up from the current maximum of 28.
It would bring the selection policy closer to pre-Covid levels after the Rugby Football Union (RFU) took the initiative in trimming down the England squad at last year's Six Nations to minimise the spread of the virus.
But it's feared the coronavirus could lead to unforeseen absences during the upcoming Six Nations, and Ford would be one of the top names liable to benefit from the squad size being increased.
The Leicester playmaker is enjoying arguably the best form of his career to date and has fired the Tigers to the top of the Premiership, having only suffered their first defeat of the season at Wasps on Sunday.
Many fans felt the 28-year-old deserved a recall for the recent autumn internationals, but Jones opted to take just Marcus Smith and captain Owen Farrell as his fly-half options.
It left the Australian with little choice other than to play Northampton full-back George Furbank in the No. 10 jersey against Tonga in November after Farrell contracted Covid-19 and Smith was yet to regain full fitness.
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But the Red Rose could avoid the risk of a similar such occurrence at the upcoming Six Nations if they were allowed to name more personnel, and it would be difficult for Jones to continue ignoring Ford in that scenario.
Just a week remains until Jones is set to name his Six Nations squad on January 18, and Ford—who will join Sale Sharks at the end of this season —may yet have a chance to add to his 77 caps.
The Oldham-born orchestrator won the last of those appearances during last year's Six Nations and was England's starting fly-half for most of the tournament, but that was prior to Smith's emergence at Test level.
The Harlequins prospect looks nailed on to keep the No. 10 jersey after guiding Jones' side to November victories over Australia and South Africa, while Farrell is in a race to be fit for the Six Nations following an ankle injury.
In the event England were approved to name a larger squad, another option of Ford's quality could at least give Smith greater cover during the early Six Nations rounds while Farrell gets back to full fitness.
Jones & Co. will open their tournament against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 5, while their first home game of the competition won't come until Round 3 when they host titleholders Wales on February 26.
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