Danny Care has been told by England that he could figure in their plans for next year’s World Cup if he makes the most of his international comeback.
Care is hoping to play a role in Sunday’s fixture against the Barbarians at Twickenham after earning a surprise recall by Eddie Jones nearly four years after winning the last of his 84 caps.
Although a star of the Gallagher Premiership over the last two seasons through his influence as one of Harlequins’ main attacking threats, Care will be 36-years-old by the time the World Cup is staged in 2023.
Forwards coach Richard Cockerill insists, however, that he will “definitely” be in Jones’ selection thoughts if he proves himself, with the non-cap international against the Barbarians and next month’s tour to Australia his immediate targets.
“If Danny’s playing well enough and he’s playing better than anybody else, whether they’re young or old, then he’ll come into contention,” Cockerill said.
“World Cups are about having that balance – having enough caps of experience to be able to control and manage the pressure, but also having those young guys who are so hungry.
“We need that balance in our group. I don’t think age will be a barrier, whether young or old. Guys will be picked on how well they’re playing.
“He’s in great physical condition, even as a senior member of the squad. I’d say he’s very keen to compete for a spot.”
Care’s England career appeared to be over after being discarded by Jones in the wake of a 35-15 victory against Japan in November 2018.
But he has been at the heart of Harlequins’ revival over the past two seasons, forging a devastating half-back partnership with Marcus Smith that has thrilled audiences across the country.
“Danny’s been on great form for a little while now. He’s full of energy and life. He’s a good character and clearly a very good player, so he’s adding on and off the field,” Cockerill said.
“He’s very experienced. He’s worked with Eddie before, he’s worked with a lot of the guys who are in the squad now before.
“He’s a bright man, he picks things up very quickly and is clearly a very instinctive player. He’s dropped in very easily and has trained very well and been very good with the group.
“Danny has always been part of a selection conversation and Eddie thinks it’s the right time to bring him back into the fold to help the group.”
Care’s Harlequins team-mate Joe Marler is absent from the training squad picked to prepare for the Barbarians match, but Cockerill insists he is still an option for the three-Test series against the Wallabies.
“We’re looking at bringing some younger props through. We know what Joe can do and this is an opportunity to see some other guys,” said the former Leicester boss, who confirmed that England will field a young side on Sunday.
“Everybody is available and no decisions have been made about going to Australia or not.”