sport

Wilson set for England start

England are ready to start David Wilson against Ireland on Saturday as they come to terms Dan Cole's absence for the rest of the RBS 6 Nations.

Wilson played just 47 minutes of Bath's Aviva Premiership victory over Exeter on Saturday in his first match since suffering a calf injury in December.

The only alternative is to pick Henry Thomas, who has been supplying cover for Cole from the bench but is deemed too inexperienced to start such a pivotal match.

Cole is due to see a specialist for a second opinion on a bulging disk in his neck tomorrow and in his absence, head coach Stuart Lancaster is set to opt for Wilson.

"David's obviously back in the mix now, so it's fortunate that he's come back and played at the weekend," Lancaster said.

"Clearly it's not ideal having had such limited game time but there are certainly positives from my point of view.

"He was outstanding for us on the summer tour to Argentina. For me he's played his best rugby this season.

"His calf has healed pretty well, but it's a tight back that's kept him out for the last couple of weeks.

"He's been able to maintain his fitness, albeit there's nothing that beats a game.

"Obviously during the Exeter v Bath game there was a lot of rugby played in the first half. Certainly he felt the pace, but he's good to go and it's good to have him back.

"We're not bringing in an inexperienced tighthead here. We're bringing in an experienced tighthead who has a lot of runs on the board in terms of international experience and game time this season.

"He hasn't played so much this season, but we're 100 per cent confident about bringing him back into the team."