Chris Robshaw trains with England at Portugal camp
By Andy Charles
Last Updated: 25/01/18 2:43pm
Chris Robshaw gave England a rare injury boost when he took part in training at their pre-Six Nations camp in Vilamoura, Portugal.
Robshaw had been one of a number of injury doubts and absentees ahead of the defending champions' opening game against Italy in Rome on February 4.
The Harlequins back-row has been struggling with a back injury and was one of 18 players coach Eddie Jones said on Wednesday were currently unavailable.
Robshaw had been mainly confined to pool work, having also missed Quins' last two games, but he was with the rest of the squad on Thursday in a forwards only session, 24 hours after Jones said his availability would be "borderline."
In the absence of Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes, 31-year-old Robshaw could start at No 8 against the Azzurri, with Exeter's Sam Simmonds and recently promoted Zach Mercer other options at Jones' disposal.
Defence coach Paul Gustard also confirmed that Courtney Lawes would be training later on Thursday and key forward Maro Itoje was working on an individual programme because of a hip problem.
Gustard said: "It's a time thing with Chris. He's on a modified programme and we have to be very sensible with him.
"It was a back spasm he had with his club, and we have to be careful with that, but he's progressing nicely and all signs are looking good."
Jones has been talking down England's hopes of winning a third consecutive Six Nations title because of the injury crisis within the squad.
The Australian could also be without full-back Mike Brown against Italy as he has been suffering blurred vision, but Gustard said Brown had not been ruled out and was also on a modified programme like Robshaw and England's other walking wounded.
"We have to give them a chance to prepare," he added. "We'll get them with our medical staff and then get them integrated back into rugby training next week."
Prop Kyle Sinckler joined the injury list earlier this week, with his place in the squad going to Bath's Henry Thomas, and Exeter centre Henry Slade will miss at least the first three games with a shoulder injury.