Lions head coach Ian McGeechan has praised his Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani following an impressive performance in club colours at the weekend.
The 21-year-old proved to be the London side’s match winner in a thrilling 36-29 victory over Leicester Tigers at Adams Park.
Having been dropped from England’s Six Nations squad for the games against Italy and Wales, Cipriani contributed 21 points in a vital league win for the Guinness Premiership champions.
And, following the type of performance that led to Cipriani being spoken so highly of prior to a horrific ankle injury in spring 2008, McGeechan is an expecting a swift return to international colours.
"I’ll be very surprised if he is not back in an England jersey by the end of the Six Nations," said McGeechan, who leads the Lions on their tour of South Africa this summer.
"I think you’ve got to be careful not to underestimate the size of that injury. Maybe some expectations were higher than they should have been.
"Now he is starting to shape up again. He’s been good in training this week and he was good against Leicester.
"He put a lot into that and he was pretty physical – he put himself on the front line and the players appreciate that. He will always do things that lift a team."
As for the Lions, McGeechan insists no one has been written into or out of selection at this stage.
If Cipriani continues to produce the level of performance he showed on Sunday, he could put himself in the frame for a treasured tour spot. If that form eludes him and he fails to impress, the Lions will remain a goal for the future but not necessarily for now.
"In a Lions context we’ve got to pick players who are playing well,” explained McGeechan.
"No doors are closed.”