London (AFP) - England are confident that experienced hooker Jamie George could be available for their Six Nations opener at home to Scotland on Saturday after he was seemingly ruled out by concussion.
The 32-year-old Saracens forward was withdrawn from new England coach Steve Borthwick's initial squad after suffering concussion during the London club's defeat by Edinburgh on January 22.
But George, capped 72 times by England, has been retained in a 29-man squad and so remains in contention to be a member of Borthwick's matchday 23 for the Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham.
England defence coach Kevin Sinfield was bullish about George's prospects on Tuesday.
"He's working through the protocols and we expect him to be available for selection," he said."He's thrown today, and it's a gradual build-up through the protocols, so at the minute he's on track to be available."
Sinfield's encouraging words represent rare good news on the injury front for former England captain Borthwick, who has seen several players drop out ahead of his team announcement on Thursday.
Leicester centre Dan Kelly was ruled out with a thigh injury on Monday, joining fellow midfielder Henry Slade and vice-captain Courtney Lawes on the sidelines.
Borthwick was only appointed to the role in December after Eddie Jones, his coaching mentor, was sacked following England's worst year of results since 2008.
"We've spoken about Courtney already, and Jamie is very much a leader in the group," said Sinfield, brought into the England set-up by Borthwick after helping the ex-England lock guide Leicester to last season's Premiership title.
"He's been around, knows how to win big games and that's important for us."