George Ford named on England bench for Nations Cup tie with Ireland

George Ford in training with England during 2020 Autumn Nations Cup George Ford is back to full fitness (Justin Tallis/PA)

George Ford will make his comeback from an Achilles injury after being named on the bench by England for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup clash with Ireland at Twickenham.

Ford missed the recent wins over Italy and Georgia to undergo treatment on the long-standing issue and – having been restored to full fitness – head coach Eddie Jones has selected him as fly-half cover.

Owen Farrell continues as chief playmaker amid an unchanged backline following a 40-0 rout of Los Lelos that has placed England at the top of Group A with pivotal matches against Ireland and Wales to come.

Powerful centre Ollie Lawrence is given another chance to bring ball-carrying muscle to the midfield alongside Henry Slade.

After experimenting up front against Georgia, Jones has reverted to largely his World Cup pack for the first meaningful encounter of the autumn.

Props Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler return to the front row while flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill reinforce the back row.

Each of the newcomers apart from the rested Underhill featured on the bench against Georgia.

The final adjustment to the forwards sees Maro Itoje move from six to lock where he will partner Joe Launchbury, who has held off the challenge of Jonny Hill.

“I’ve picked the strongest team possible for the most important game of our season,” Jones said.

“We have the highest respect for the Ireland and their coach Andy Farrell. They’ve had good preparation with two wins and a dominant display against Wales, and we will need to be at our best on Saturday.

“We’ve trained well this week, we’re expecting a tough, physical game against Ireland and we’ve reflected that in our sessions.

“We’ll look to lift our performance even higher and are looking forward to a really good game of rugby.”

England team to play Ireland

Forwards: 1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens), 2 Jamie George (Saracens), 3 Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears), 4 Maro Itoje (Saracens), 5 Joe Launchbury (Wasps), 6 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), 7 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby), 8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens)

Backs: 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers), 10 Owen Farrell (CAPTAIN, Saracens), 11 Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), 12 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), 13 Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors), 14 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), 15 Elliot Daly (Saracens)

Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby), 17 Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), 18 Will Stuart (Bath Rugby), 19 Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs), 20 Ben Earl (Bristol Bears), 21 Dan Robson (Wasps), 22 George Ford (Leicester Tigers), 23 Max Malins (Bristol Bears)

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