England head coach Martin Johnson's RBS 6 Nations plans have been dealt a big boost with the news that scrum-half Harry Ellis is fit enough to return for Leicester this weekend.
Tigers boss Richard Cockerill had suggested the 27-year-old – who has made 27 appearances for England – would not be seen in a Leicester shirt until after Christmas.
However after Leicester lost 40-30 to Clermont last Sunday and a return fixture with the French outfit labelled a ‘must win’ Cockerill is set to give Ellis the nod.
The scrum-half has been hampered by a knee injury over the past two seasons and has only made two starts for Leicester so far this season.
Scrum-half duties were shared between Paul Hodgson and Danny Care during the autumn internationals but with neither cementing a spot, Johnson will be buoyed by the early return of Ellis.
And Leicester boss Cockerill insists he has no doubts that Ellis is ready.
“We will play Harry when his knee is right,” said Cockerill. “He has played 60 minutes for the second team and he will be part of the game on Saturday.
“He’s one of our key players and he takes a big chunk of our budget so we need to get him on the field.”