George Kruis will be fit to face France in England's Six Nations opener
England's lineout general was rated touch and go for the opening game against France because of the broken cheekbone he sustained on Saracens duty against Newcastle on Christmas Eve.
Initial optimism gave way to concern for Eddie Jones when Kruis missed his club's bruising Champions Cup tie against Toulon on Saturday.
He has, though, been able to play an active part in England's warm-weather training exercises on the Algarve and revealed yesterday he is on schedule to return at Twickenham.
"We got a couple of opinions and decided last weekend was too soon – we were pushing, but it was just too soon. It was a four-to-six-week injury and we tried to make it three," said Kruis.
"This Friday will be four weeks so it's realistic I'll be up for that. A week makes a big difference. I haven't done full contact yet so I'll build towards that at the end of the week."
Maro Itoje looks set to take the No 6 jersey in Chris Robshaw's absence
Kruis's availability gives Jones an extra option for France and the England coach must now decide on the blend he wants from a second row which could also include Courtney Lawes or Joe Launchbury.
Lawes enjoyed a consistent autumn series but Launchbury was also going well until he picked up the first suspension of his career after being cited for careless footwork against Fiji – a ban which opened the way for Kruis's return.
Maro Itoje, who reprised his mighty all-Saracens second row combination with Kruis in last season's Six Nations, would ordinarily come into the equation too but he is being earmarked for the No 6 jersey in Chris Robshaw's absence.
"He'll go well. He's a good player. He'll adapt to the position," said Kruis. "He's played well for us there. He has that string to his bow. He can do it if he wants to."
The one factor which could count against Kruis is his lay-off.
Joe Marler is touch and go for England due to a leg injury
Taken in isolation it might not be an issue – he was up to speed for England pretty much immediately after a longer absence before Christmas – but there may be rust elsewhere in the England pack to account for too.
Joe Marler, if he shakes off a leg injury in time for the France game, will not have played for four weeks while Dylan Hartley will have not seen competitive action for eight weeks after his sending off against Leinster.
Having satisfied Jones as to his aerobic fitness with a bespoke 36-minute training session designed to mirror the time the ball is in play in an average Test match, Hartley will be reconfirmed as captain in London today at the official Six Nations launch.
It will be a wrench to swap the enervating rays of the Portuguese sun behind for another media grilling on his dreadful rap sheet but Hartley will arrive as leader of a side which walks with a vastly surer step to 12 months ago.
Back then, England were World Cup flops starting out under a new coach and captain; now they are now grand slam champions about to defend their title.
Six Nations 2016 in pictures
Sun, March 20, 2016
Express Sport brings you the best pictures from the 2016 RBS Six Nations Championship
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Express Sport brings you all the best pictures from the 2016 Six Nations Championship, where England achieved their first Grand Slam since 2003
"It'll definitely be harder – everyone wants to try and beat the champs so you've always got to stay ahead of the curve – but we're even hungrier now. We want to be No 1 in the world and to do that we have to win every game," said Kruis.
"We've got a bit of confidence and people are talking about us in the media which is always nice but we are fully concentrated on this next game which is going to be a big battle for us.
"France are France and they like to play with that little bit of edge and try to put you on the back foot but we're pretty confident."
Meanwhile, London Welsh have been thrown out of the Championship and will exist only as an amateur operation from now on.
The RFU expelled the club after they failed to pay their creditors following their liquidation on December 23.