Joe Marler could feature at a second Rugby World Cup after the Harlequins prop, who retired from the international game last September, was named in a 35-man England training squad ahead of Japan 2019.
Marler played against England for the Barbarians last month, and indicated to coach Eddie Jones then that he was ready to make himself available for Japan with fellow loosehead Mako Vunipola battling injury.
Vunipola has not been named in the training squad but, alongside Saracens team-mate George Kruis and Exeter winger Jack Nowell, he will head into camp to continue his rehabilitation. All three injured players will be considered for selection.
“I saw Joe during the Barbarians week and he indicated that he had a desire to come back,” Jones said. “We have since had a couple of chats and we have given him the opportunity to do that. Now it is up to him to show us what he has got.”
Marler is one of 13 players named in the 35-man group on Thursday who were in the England squad that fell at the pool stage of their home Rugby World Cup four years ago. Kruis, Nowell and Vunipola also played at England 2015.
Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs are all in contention to appear at a third Rugby World Cup having also been selected in 2011, while Manu Tuilagi – who did not play at England 2015 – completes the quartet of survivors from New Zealand.
New faces in squad
Meanwhile, Jones has included four uncapped players in his training squad with Gloucester captain Willi Heinz, former England U20 forward Lewis Ludlam, Olympic silver medallist Ruaridh McConnochie and Jack Singleton all included.
Jones will oversee England’s first official training week in Bagshot from Sunday before the squad head to Treviso on 22 July for the first of two warm-weather camps in the Italian city.
“We can’t wait to have the full squad in place and to have players competing for those 31 places,” Jones said.
“It is a process of building the team up, building the cohesion, the tactical understanding of the team and our adaptability. We will need to get those things right to win the World Cup, and that is our aim.”
England will play Wales in home-and-away warm-up matches on 11 and 17 August before meeting Ireland at Twickenham on 24 August, and Italy in Newcastle on 6 September.
Jones’ side will be determined to bounce back from the heartache of 2015, when defeats to Australia and Wales consigned England to third in Pool A as they became the first host nation to fail to make the knockout stages.
England have played in two Rugby World Cup finals, in 1991 and 2003, and lifted the Webb Ellis Cup at the latter after Jonny Wilkinson’s famous drop goal secured an extra-time win over hosts Australia.