England's Nowell set for Exeter return after lengthy injury lay-off

London (AFP) –


England wing Jack Nowell is on the brink of ending his six-month injury absence by returning to club action with reigning Premiership champions Exeter.

Nowell has not played since Exeter beat Wasps in the English Premiership final last October and he subsequently had surgery on damaged toe ligaments.

But Exeter coach Rob Baxter, speaking ahead of this weekend's league match at home to Wasps, said Wednesday: "Jack has now had a couple of weeks' full training and he is fit and ready to go."

Saturday's match at Sandy Park will be Exeter's first fixture since the southwest side's defence of their European Champions Cup title ended with a quarter-final defeat by Irish giants Leinster last weekend.

Exeter are currently 12 points behind Premiership leaders Bristol with seven games of the regular league season remaining, but are three points ahead of third-placed Sale.

The title, however, will be decided by play-off matches involving the top four after the end of the standard campaign and Baxter believes Exeter are well-placed to cope with the fall-out from losing 34-22 to four-time European champions Leinster.

"I will be honest with you, we have kind of already moved on," he said.

"That doesn't mean we haven't done what we would normally do post-game, but we wrapped that up on Monday and early Tuesday," Baxter added.

"Yes, there are lessons to be learnt, but we have just got to move on now.

"There are big games ahead, starting this week with Wasps, moving then to Bristol. My job is to move the team on into our next new challenge, which is trying to win the Premiership."