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England's incoming head coach can plan for the start of the RBS 6 Nations knowing that Jonathan Joseph will be among the attacking options available.
The search continues for a successor to Stuart Lancaster, who stepped down last week having presided over a disastrous World Cup, with Eddie Jones a strong favourite to fill the vacancy at Twickenham.
Joseph underwent surgery to repair a damaged pectoral muscle last month, but the Bath outside centre is now expected to return to action in December rather than January, ensuring he will be available for the Six Nations opener against Scotland on February 6.
"Jonathan is in front of schedule, which is fantastic for us. Everyone's different, but he's on course to probably be back in eight weeks rather than 12," Bath assistant coach Toby Booth said.
If Jones does become the next England head coach - his Super Rugby franchise the Stormers insist he is staying in Cape Town - then he may be forced to back track on views aired during an interview given strongly linked with Twickenham.
The former Australia and Japan boss has described the Six Nations as a "dour affair built on the foundation of not allowing the opposition to score points", but potentially more harmful are his views on the English system which could upset clubs were he to be appointed.
Jones believes England are hamstrung by the fact players are contracted to the Aviva Premiership clubs and not centrally, as happens in most other nations.
"How can you manage your players when they are controlled by other organisations?" he told ESPN.
"In my opinion, that is the single greatest task ahead of whoever is going to be appointed as the next England coach.
"Wales, Ireland and Scotland - unlike England, Italy and France - all have centralised contracting systems.
"The union controls the players. As a consequence, they produced competitive teams and vibrant performances at the recent World Cup."
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