Billy Vunipola expects to miss Six Nations finale

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Billy Vunipiola has played down his chances of returning from injury for England by the end of the Six Nations.

England head coach Eddie Jones recently suggested the number eight could make his comeback from knee surgery as a replacement against Ireland next month, in the final round of this year's tournament.

However, Vunipola told The Sun: "I have still got a while to go. Hopefully I will be running soon. I think it'll be two or three weeks so I probably won't make the Ireland game."

One of England's standout performers under Jones, Vunipola appears certain to be part of this year's British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand providing he does not suffer any setbacks in his recovery.

Yet the Saracens forward said: "It would be premature for me to stand here and talk about Lions selection.

"I just want to get back fit having had surgery on my knee. Then I will try to push myself to that level that everyone else is operating at.

"There is a lot of work for myself to do and, up to this point, the physio team and the strength and conditioning group have done a great job.

"So I shall keep my head down and when I am back, I am back, but I am not expecting to walk straight back into the England team."

Vunipola's brother Mako returned to action on Friday in Saracens' Premiership defeat to Gloucester and is expected to feature when England face Italy at Twickenham this weekend.