Can England really deliver in Dublin and stun Ireland in latest pre-World Cup showdown?

George Ford has the chance to put down his own marker in Dublin on Saturday
©Sale Sharks

It has been an eventful week for England.

The 'absolutely disgusting circus' - as described by Ireland coach Andy Farrell - surrounding his son Owen, following the sending off of the England captain against Wales, has dominated the headlines.

With confirmation that World Rugby will be appealing the decision to downgrade Farrell's red card, it means the saga is set to rumble on but England - and Steve Borthwick - now have to focus on taking on Grand Slam winners Ireland in Dublin.

With just two games to go in England's World Cup preparations, there are three things I believe Borthwick’s side must do if they are to upset the odds and gain a victory against the No.1 ranked team on the planet.

1- Attack

In Farrell's absence, George Ford starts at fly-half this week. With the skipper's involvement in the pool stages of the World Cup now in doubt once again, the Sale playmaker has the chance to potentially make the No.10 jersey his own.

After managing to guide his side to a win last week, Ford needs to help sort out a faltering England attack in Dublin.

With, on paper, a balanced and exciting backline - which includes a first start of the summer for Manu Tuilagi at inside centre - England need to pull the trigger with some attacking shapes and moves which can trouble the Ireland defence.

2- Come out of the blocks fast

To start fast and put pressure on the Irish from the get-go will be key. If Ireland get what they want and get into their rhythm, we will probably end up seeing a near repeat of the easy victory Andy Farrell's side recorded in March [29-16] in the same fixture.

Whereas if England can build a lead and disrupt, they could cause an upset but we are yet to see that from Borthwick's men during these World Cup warm-up matches. Can they change their approach on Saturday?

3- Fight for their spots

These English players need to show some fight. We saw it for 10 minutes last week when they battled back to edge past Wales but now they must follow it up.

Being tough to beat is what England teams used to be built on and it is something this current side needs to reinforce this weekend, especially at the breakdown to stop Ireland playing at their tempo.

As for Ireland, they will be keen to start building some intensity of their own, especially after seeing how well their fellow Pool B side Scotland have played over the last couple of weeks against World cup hosts, France.

Andy Farrell has named a strong and experienced side whilst also giving a first start to exciting talent Cian Prendergast at number eight. The Ireland boss also said injured back-rower Jack Conan - as well as prop Dave Kilcoyne and hooker Ronan Kelleher - will be available for the World Cup having not been included for this weekend's meeting with England.

Saturday is arguably Ireland's toughest match before playing South Africa in their third game of Pool B on September 23rd [with a final warm-up clash against Samoa and then fixtures with Romania and Tonga at the World Cup to come before then] so they will want to put a serious marker down to show they should still be considered as one of the favourites in France.

With everything that has gone on around Owen Farrell this week, the news that England scrum-half Alex Mitchell was called up to replace the injured Jack van Poortvliet may have been overshadowed.

The Northampton Saints No.9 isn't involved this weekend in Dublin but he is a very different type of scrum-half to van Poortvliet, with his game based around speed and instinctive play.

Through tap-and-go’s or sniping around the breakdown, he will be keeping defences on their toes. He brings something different to the two other nines in the 33.

Whilst Danny Care [who is on the bench v Ireland] also likes to play a high-tempo game at Harlequins, for England, he has experience and knows what it’s like to play at Test level meaning he might be less inclined to take the risks that he does in a club shirt.

Mitchell has that youthful inexperience where he will throw caution to the wind, which is a positive, but in a structured gameplan that England have recently preferred, perhaps it wouldn't unlock the best of the 26-year-old.

Ben Youngs is the man in possession of the No.9 jersey on Saturday but it will be interesting to see if Mitchell will be trusted by Borthwick at any point between now and the World Cup as well as in the tournament itself.

Mitchell did impress when coming off the bench in the Six Nations earlier this year, and whilst he wasn't included in the original World Cup squad or for Dublin this weekend, perhaps his chance to pull on the England jersey once again isn't too far away.

Ireland team news: Keenan; Hansen, Ringrose, Aki, Lowe; Byrne, Gibson-Park; Porter, Sheehan, Furlong, Beirne, Ryan, O'Mahony, van der Flier, Prendergast.

Replacements: Herring, Loughman, Bealham, McCarthy, Doris, Murray, Crowley, Earls.

England team news: Steward; Watson, Marchant, Tuilagi, Daly; Ford, Youngs; Genge, George, Stuart, Itoje, Ribbans, Lawes (capt), Earl, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Dan, Marler, Sinckler, Chessum, Willis, Care, Smith, Lawrence.