British and Irish Lions defence coach Steve Tandy has revealed fly-half Finn Russell is back in training following an Achilles injury and could be in contention to face South Africa on Saturday.
The Scotland star suffered a tear to his Achilles during the Lions’ one-sided win over the Sharks on July 7 and has played just 89 minutes on the tour thus far.
Head coach Warren Gatland is in a dilemma at fly-half after Dan Biggar—who starred in Saturday’s 22-17 win over the Springboks —suffered a head injury late in the first Test.
Tandy told reporters the Wales No. 10 will only return to training on Thursday at the earliest, offering Russell a glimmer of hope as he makes his comeback: "All being well, Dan should be available to train on Thursday and Finn will start to train with us today.
"Finn could potentially be in the mix, we'll see how he pulls up. I know he's been reacting well to training.”
Biggar converted four penalties and a conversion as the Lions rallied to victory at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, and Gatland will give his former Wales charge every chance to keep his place.
England captain Owen Farrell looks likely to be named deputy in the event he’s not fit to feature, however, having come on as Biggar’s replacement in the opening instalment of the three-Test series.
Farrell, 29, kept a composed head to slot a decisive penalty late on for the travelling team, all but ensuring the Lions of a historic victory in hostile territory.
International team-mate Marcus Smith —who was only recently called up as cover for Russell—could also be a surprise candidate for the No. 10 job, though admittedly a risky one.
Smith, 22, impressed during his 80-minute display in the 49-3 warm-up win over the Stormers, his only experience so far on his maiden Lions tour.
The youngster is finally making inroads with England after many fans campaigned for his call-up, having recently led Harlequins to their first Premiership title in nine years.
There’s a growing sentiment the England starlet has a big career and more Lions caps ahead of him, but the occasion could be deemed too grand for the two-cap international on this occasion.
Racing 92 playmaker Russell holds considerably more experience at the elite level, but while he rarely fails to entertain, the Scot can often be cavalier in his decision-making.
There were concerns injury would force Russell out of the tour without playing against the Springboks, but his return and doubts over Biggar’s involvement may yet lead to change this week.
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