England’s Henry Slade hopes he can be involved in the remainder of their Guinness Six Nations campaign as he nears a return to action.
The 26-year-old centre is hoping to feature this weekend for the Exeter Chiefs, when they face Gloucester Rugby on Friday night.
The utility back has not played since fracturing his ankle in December but returned to training last week.
“I am getting there,” Slade told Standard Sport. “I was back in training on Thursday last week for the first day.
“It has taken a bit longer than I was first anticipating, but it is getting there now. I am nearly there.
“Hopefully, I will be back in the next week or two and be playing. We’ve got a game this week for Exeter, so potentially that one, but if not then I guess the week after.
“But I will be aiming for this week.”
Slade, who has won 26 caps, was involved in all five of England’s games in last year’s Championship and recorded a brace of tries against Ireland, who they face next in Round 3.
But the Exeter Chief admits he is anxious to get back into the thick of things after watching England’s opening-round defeat to France on the sidelines.
“It was a disappointing result in France. The first half obviously hurt us, but I think the boys came back really well in the second half,” he added.
“You never know, that [bonus] point could be crucial at the end. It is frustrating all the time watching on the weekends and I am trying as hard as I can now to get back fit and to give myself a shot of being involved.”
England will be seeking back-to-back Championship victories against Ireland for the first time in six years when they host them at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday February 23.