Maro Itoje set to start for England against France

Maro Itoje is set to start in England's back row against France
Maro Itoje is set to start in England's back row against France

Saracens lock Maro Itoje is set to be named in the starting line-up for England's Six Nations opener against France at Twickenham on Saturday.

The 22-year-old last played for England during the historic Test series triumph against Australia in June following which a hand injury forced him out of the autumn international campaign.

Itoje will move from lock to blindside to fill the vacancy created by former England skipper Chris Robshaw's absence due to a shoulder surgery.

Meanwhile, Itoje's Saracens team-mate George Kruis is a doubtful starter for the clash against France after a discomfort in knee forced him to miss Tuesday's training session in Surrey. In the case of the 26-year-old missing out against Guy Noves' men, Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury will partner up in the second row.

Northampton Saints' Tom Wood is set to continue at openside with James Haskell returning from a leg surgery expected to take his place on the bench. Anthony Watson is already ruled out of the Saturday's encounter with a hamstring injury while Jonny May, who was left bloodied after a head clash during Tuesday's training session is under the scanner.

England 25-man squad retained in preparation for Saturday's Six Nations match against France:

Forwards: D Cole (Leicester Tigers), E Genge (Leicester Tigers), J George (Saracens), T Harrison (Northampton Saints), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (Wasps), N Hughes (Wasps), M Itoje (Saracens), G Kruis (Saracens), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), J Marler (Harlequins), M Mullan (Wasps), K Sinckler (Harlequins), T Wood (Northampton Saints)

Backs: M Brown (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), E Daly (Wasps), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Bath Rugby), J Joseph (Bath Rugby), J May (Gloucester Rugby), J Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), B Te'o (Worcester Warriors), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers).