Joe Marler looks set to be fit for England's Six Nations opening clash against France on Saturday (4 February). The Harlequins loosehead prop's appearance at Twickenham will mark an exceptionally swift recovery from a lower left leg fracture suffered while warming up in advance of an Aviva Premiership meeting with Sale Sharks on 7 January. Such a blow was initially expected to keep him out for up to five weeks.
Marler's chances of being fit to fill the void left by Mako Vunipola's knee injury against Les Bleus were later improved to 51/49 by Eddie Jones, who named the player in his 34-man Six Nations squad. He subsequently travelled with his teammates to their five-day pre-competition training camp in Vilamoura and appears to have continued his rapid rehabilitation upon England's return to their domestic base at Pennyhill Park.
When asked how the 26-year-old was shaping up three days before Jones is due to name his starting XV for France, forwards coach Steve Borthwick said: "Good. Joe trained last week in Portugal, again this morning and is expected to train fully this afternoon.
"He is a fast healer and has done really well. He has been incredibly diligent in terms of doing everything he has to to get himself fit, and that is a great credit to him."
Marler was handed a two-game suspension and fined £20,000 during last year's Six Nations after aiming an offensive slur at Wales prop Samson Lee. He subsequently ruled himself out of the summer tour to Australia but later returned to appear as a replacement in all four of England's autumn victories.
Borthwick also provided a positive update on the fitness of James Haskell, who, along with Jack Clifford, did not initially fly out to The Algarve as planned and instead stayed behind in the UK to undergo further assessments on a foot injury. The 31-year-old flanker missed the trip Down Under and the entire autumn international series following toe surgery and later suffered concussion just 35 seconds into his return for Wasps against Leicester Tigers.
"He trained this morning [Monday] and is expected to train again this afternoon," Borthwick said. "We are going to assess and see how he goes, we have a big day of training tomorrow as well, so we will be monitoring him closely and see how he progresses. Every indication so far is that he is going well and in good condition."
On Clifford, who also played no part in the closing stages of England's record-equalling unbeaten year due to an ankle operation and later sustained a chest injury during Harlequins' Challenge Cup loss to Stade Francais, he added: "Jack is on modified training and he is progressing along that well. He did some work this morning and he is progressing."
George Kruis is also on track to start against France after recovering from a fractured cheekbone. However, Anthony Watson has been ruled out for three to four weeks with a hamstring strain. The Bath wing joins former captain Chris Robshaw, both Vunipola brothers and Manu Tuilagi on the sidelines.