Smith return welcome news for new England boss Borthwick

Marcus Smith is set to give new England coach Steve Borthwick a boost with a timely return to action ahead of the Six Nations Championship.

Fly-half Smith has been on the sidelines since suffering an ankle injury in England's defeat by world champions South Africa in their last match of 2022.

But the 23-year-old has been included in Harlequins' starting XV for the Champions Cup tie against Racing 92 in Paris on Sunday -- just three weeks before England launch their Six Nations campaign against Scotland on February 4.

Smith's comeback has coincided with the suspension of fellow England stand-off Owen Farrell, with George Ford -- another contender for the Red Rose No 10 shirt -- still to play this season following an Achilles tendon injury.

Meanwhile, England back-row Courtney Lawes will make his first start since late September when Northampton face Munster in the Champions Cup on Saturday.

The 33-year-old forward was troubled by concussion earlier this season and missed all of England's November internationals.

Former England captain Borthwick, who has succeeded the sacked Eddie Jones, is set to name his initial squad for the Six Nations on Monday.