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England and Saracens pair Vunipola and Itoje to return

Credit: PA

Saracens and England have received a major double boost with Billy Vunipola and Maro Itoje returning from injury on Sunday.

Powerful number eight Vunipola has been sidelined since September because of a knee injury, raising concerns that he might not be fit for the start of this season's NatWest 6 Nations.

Lock Itoje, meanwhile, broke his jaw a month ago, but Saracens have announced both players in their starting line-up for the Ricoh Arena appointment with Wasps.

It also means they are available for Saracens' final two European Champions Cup pool fixtures against Ospreys and Northampton, with the holders realistically needing victory in both matches to keep alive quarter-final ambitions.

Vunipola missed the British and Irish Lions' New Zealand tour last summer because of a shoulder problem, but his latest comeback begins a month before England's Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome.


England's Itoje will return from injury for Six Nations

Itoje had been injured playing for his club side Harlequins earlier this month. Credit: PA

Maro Itoje will be available for the start of England's Six Nations title defence after Saracens revealed he faces a maximum of four more weeks in rehabilitation.

Itoje required surgery on a fractured jaw sustained in the 20-19 defeat at Harlequins on December 3, resulting in two plates being inserted into his face and raising the alarm that he may not be fit to face Italy on February 4.

But a visit to the specialist offered a diagnosis of up to six weeks in the treatment room, pointing to a return for the final two rounds of Saracens' Champions Cup group campaign against the Ospreys and Northampton.

"Maro is probably three or four weeks away. He went to see the specialist who said a maximum of six weeks and he's already done a week and a half," director of rugby Mark McCall said.

Itoje, a Test British and Irish Lion, departed in the 48th minute at Twickenham Stoop following a collision with England team-mate Mike Brown.

The world player of the year nominee was given a reduced role in the autumn series due to Eddie Jones' desire to manage his workload, missing the opener against Argentina, playing as a replacement for the visit of Australia before starting against Samoa.

Farrell and Itoje rested for England's autumn Test

Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje will be rested for Saturday's autumn test. Credit: PA

England have rested Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje for Saturday's autumn Test against Argentina at Twickenham, the Rugby Football Union has announced.

England team to face Argentina:

Team: M Brown (Harlequins); A Watson (Bath), J Joseph (Bath), H Slade (Exeter), E Daly (Wasps); G Ford (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); M Vunipola (Saracens), D Hartley (Northampton, capt), D Cole (Leicester), C Lawes (Northampton), G Kruis (Saracens), C Robshaw (Harlequins), S Underhill (Bath), N Hughes (Wasps).

Replacements: J George (Saracens), E Genge (Leicester), H Williams (Exeter), J Launchbury (Wasps), T Curry (Sale), D Care (Harlequins), A Lozowski (Saracens), S Rokoduguni (Bath).

More to follow.

Itoje out of autumn internationals with broken hand

The incident happened during Saturday's European Champions Cup victory over the Scarlets. Credit: Reuters

European player of the year Maro Itoje will miss England's autumn Tests after fracturing his right hand.

Itoje's club Saracens confirmed the injury, which happened during Saturday's European Champions Cup victory over the Scarlets at Allianz Park.

Saracens say that second-row forward Itoje requires surgery and will be sidelined for six weeks. It will rule him out of England's games against South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and Australia, and is a huge blow for club and country.