Mako Vunipola back in England training squad for Wales clash

London (AFP) –


England prop Mako Vunipola will be available for this weekend's Six Nations clash at home to Wales after being named in an extended 34-man training squad on Monday.

Eddie Jones, the England coach, had indicated that Vunipola was unlikely to be in contention for Saturday's match against the Grand Slam champions at Twickenham after travelling to Tonga for unspecified personal reasons.

But the Saracens front row is now back at England's training base in Bagshot, southwest of London, and will compete for the loosehead prop berth with Joe Marler and Ellis Genge.

Veteran coach Jones also included wing Anthony Watson and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie in his latest training squad following a win over Ireland last time out that revived World Cup finalists England's hopes of winning this season's Six Nations.

Watson has yet to feature in this season's Championship because of a calf injury but is now fit to push for a place while Cowan-Dickie has been in and out of the squad this season, with the Exeter forward missing the victory over Scotland due to the premature birth of his son.

Monday saw Jack Maunder join the squad as Jones selected a third scrum-half for the first time this Six Nations in addition to Ben Youngs and Willi Heinz.

Maunder won his lone England cap during the 2017 tour of Argentina and he now has a chance to force his way into a matchday 23 set to be announced by Jones on Thursday.

Meanwhile Mark Wilson, who came through last week's training camp in Oxford, is vying for a back-row place as he continues his return from a knee injury.

Grand Slam-chasing France, the only unbeaten side left in this season's Championship, lead the table with three wins from as many matches.

But if they slip up in the final two rounds and England, beaten by France in their tournament opener, finish with four wins from five then Jones' men could yet take the title.