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England report clean bill of health prior to Scotland clash

Forwards coach Steve Borthwick has confirmed that England have a fully fit squad to choose from as they bid to continue their quest for a third successive Six Nations crown against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Concerns over the fitness of inside centre Owen Farrell, wing Anthony Watson and lock Joe Launchbury abounded towards the end of last week, although such worries have now lifted. Borthwick said: “Everyone is fully fit for selection this weekend.”

No8 Nathan Hughes, meanwhile, is set to start in England’s back row after returning from injury ahead of schedule and building his fitness during gruelling training sessions, having sustained knee ligament damage in mid-December.

Hughes will provide England and head coach Eddie Jones with a ball-carrying option at No8 and his presence is timely given Exeter’s Sam Simmonds has been sidelined with a shoulder problem.

“Nathan’s worked really hard, really diligently and he looks in really good shape,” added Borthwick.

“He’s healed very fast which is great. While our strength and conditioning and medical team have worked incredibly hard, the credit has to go to Nathan for the work he’s done whilst he’s been injured.

“I think he gives us different strengths. It’s great that we’ve got variety of different players and different strengths and we’re building depth in that position as well.”

Borthwick believes Hughes’s clout within the England squad has grown considerably since his Test debut against South Africa in November 2016, and the former Saracens second row expects that to continue to develop.

“Nathan’s effect on the group has grown within the squad,” said Borthwick. “The impact he has with younger players, he’s brilliant with them where he helps them mentally. He’s grown as a player in terms of the influence he has.”

Scotland are unbeaten at Murrayfield since England prevailed there during Jones’s first match in charge in February 2016, although they have not beaten the Red Rose, home or away, since 2008.

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