Mike Brown has handed England a huge boost ahead of their upcoming World Cup training camp after the full-back was cleared to return to action following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with concussion.
Stuart Lancaster will soon name a 45-man squad that will embark on a pre-World Cup training camp in June, three months before the rest of the rugby world descends on England and Wales for the game's showpiece tournament in September.
Despite making his international debut in 2007, it wasn't until 2012 before Brown really established himself as a key part of Lancaster's England side, and the head coach will be delighted to know his first choice full-back looks likely to be fit and available for the World Cup later this year.
Brown initially suffered the injury when knocked-out after colliding with Italy's Andrea Masi in England's 47-17 victory. After missing the defeat to Ireland in Dublin in the following round of Six Nations games, Brown returned to action in England's thrilling end-of-tournament victory over France. That was a result that ended up not being good enough to stop the Irish retaining their title.
After returning for Harlequins at the end of the Six Nations, Brown continued to suffer from headaches almost 12 weeks after being knocked-out against Italy. He was suffering so much that the club brought in head-injury specialists in the hope of getting to the bottom of the problem.
After showing improvements over the past couple of weeks, Brown has now been cleared to return to light training and will be allowed to link up with his England team-mates for their training camp next month, although Harlequins have ruled out the full-back from their final game of the season.
With a few weeks to go until the training camp, Brown is expected to be able to take part in full training by the time the 45-man England squad meet up. Lancaster will be hoping the 29-year-old comes through without incident.
One of the most important players in this England back-line, the loss of Brown would have been a huge blow to the co-hosts going into this World Cup. While there are a number of options available to Lancaster if his first-choice 15 was absent, Brown has been a major reason behind England's success over the past 18 months and the Quins man has been tipped to be a key player in this year's World Cup.
With Brown in the side, England at the time of writing look a pretty decent bet at 7/2 with bet365 to win the tournament, especially considering how well Lancaster's men played for the majority of this year's Six Nations.
It's no surprise to see defending champions New Zealand heading into this year's World Cup as main contenders, although South Africa and Australia will also be heading to the northern hemisphere confident of causing an upset. Throw into the mix an in-form Ireland team, a Welsh side with plenty to prove, and a French outfit that can theoretically beat any of the top teams on their day, and this could well be one of the most open World Cups we have seen in recent memory.