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England back row pair to be assessed in camp

By PA
Alex Dombrandt during England training /PA

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Alex Dombrandt and Sam Underhill will have the chance to train their way into selection contention for England’s Six Nations clash with Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.

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Dombrandt remains a doubt after testing positive for Covid-19, with England ready to give the Harlequins number eight an opportunity to prove his health and fitness in training on Thursday.

Underhill, meanwhile, has returned to the England set-up for the first time since the autumn, having battled Covid, illness and injury to be back in the Test arena.

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But the Bath flanker must prove his sharpness in training on Tuesday, to push his way into the selection picture.

England coach Eddie Jones said of Quins powerhouse Dombrandt: “He’ll be a chance, but we’ve just got to wait and see how he recovers from Covid.

“He has to do all the cardiac tests, and then we’ll see on Thursday whether he can train, and participate in the training at the necessary level.

“And if that’s the case then he has a chance to play against Ireland.”

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Dombrandt tested positive for Covid on Friday and missed England’s training camp in Bristol last weekend due to initial isolation.

England’s readiness to hand Dombrandt the brunt of the week to prove his availability for selection indicates the growing faith in the 24-year-old from taskmaster boss Jones.

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Underhill was omitted from England’s tournament opener against Scotland having been forced to navigate head-injury issues.

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The loose forward suffered nasty-looking blows to the head against Gloucester on Boxing Day, and then again in action against Leinster in January.

The 25-year-old returned to Gallagher Premiership action as Bath edged out Bristol 29-27 on Saturday however, and now has the chance to impress with England.

“He’s a quality player, he’s had a difficult season, with Covid, sickness and a few injuries,” Jones said of Underhill.

“He’s a little bit off his best but we’ll give him the opportunity to train tomorrow and see where he’s up to.

“And if he’s at the necessary level to play an international game against Ireland, then he’ll come into the consideration for the 23.”

England added Nic Dolly and Alex Mitchell to their squad on Sunday night, with the pair included for the first time since the 2021 Autumn Nations Series.

Bath’s Orlando Bailey and Harlequins’ Luke Northmore were also added to the ranks.

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