Manu Tuilagi could be fit for England's second match of the Six Nations against Italy at Stadio Olimpico.

The Sale Sharks centre has been sidelined since suffering a torn hamstring when he scored a try in the Red Rose's win over South Africa at Twickenham in November.

Tuilagi is on course to make his return for Sale against Harlequins in the Premiership a week on Sunday, the day after England face Scotland in their Six Nations opener at Murrayfield.

And Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson says the 30-year-old powerhouse may be back in international action in Rome on February 13.

"Harlequins is the projected return, and then we will see how he feels for Six Nations," said Sanderson.

"It is a week-to-week thing for Manu, but England have total autonomy over when he plays and doesn't play, and if he looks really good and feels good, he will go straight through to England and it could be Italy."

Sanderson revealed a clash with his former club Leicester Tigers this Sunday came too soon for Tuilagi.

"He is training and looking good, but we think it is too much of a risk to push him this weekend," Sanderson added.

"He is an exceptional trainer and a quick healer, so all of his progressions are done on the back of hitting physiological markers and GPS speeds, re-scans and seeing the specialist, and we would never push him earlier."

England this week suffered a blow when captain Owen Farrell was ruled out of the Six Nations due to an ankle injury.

Fraser Dingwall has been called up to the England squad in place of Manu Tuilagi, who has withdrawn due to injury.

The Sale Sharks centre was hurt during his side's 40-30 Premiership semi-final defeat to Exeter Chiefs last Saturday.

Tuilagi, who missed the autumn internationals last year and England's Six Nations campaign, was only three games into a return following an Achilles problem sustained last September.

Northampton Saints' Dingwall has joined up with Eddie Jones' squad ahead of the match between England A and Scotland A in Leicester on Sunday.

Jones' men then play a Test match double-header against the United States at Twickenham on July 4 and July 10.

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