New England head coach Eddie Jones has received an early fitness boost with centre Jonathan Joseph beginning his comeback from injury ahead of schedule.
Joseph will start for Bath in Saturday’s Premiership clash against Recreation Ground visitors Northampton.
He suffered a chest injury during the World Cup and then underwent surgery following England’s pool stage exit in October.
Initial predictions were that he would struggle to play again before late January, but Joseph has made a speedy recovery and will feature in Bath’s midfield this weekend alongside Ollie Devoto.
England kick off their Six Nations campaign against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 6, which will be Australian Jones’ first match in charge.
England flanker Tom Wood, though, will miss the West Country trip due to injury, although Saints have not revealed what Wood’s problem is.
Northampton are also without Wood’s fellow England forwards Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes as they target a third Premiership victory of the season against a team two points and two places below them.