Sale director of rugby, Alex Sanderson, backed George Ford to return to the England squad following their Guinness Six Nations hammering by France.

The fly-half was in action for Sale on Sunday in their 36-18 Gallagher Premiership defeat at London Irish, having been left out of Steve Borthwick’s squad in favour of Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith.

England, beaten 53-10 by the French, finish their Six Nations campaign in Ireland this weekend.

“George will definitely go back and train with England,” Sanderson said.

“It looks like Steve’s got a really difficult job now - to rebuild or rotate.

“If I’m in his shoes I think you fall back to people you know and trust, and George ticks both of those boxes.”

At the Gtech Community Stadium the hosts held off Sale in the second half before putting the game beyond reach with two late scores.

Tries from Hugh O’Sullivan, Agustin Creevy, Lucio Cinti, Tarek Haffar and James Stokes secured a bonus-point victory for the Exiles.

Tries from Jean-Luc du Preez and Sam Dugdale had kept Sale in touch, alongside the kicking of Robert du Preez and Ford.

On his second-placed side’s performance, Sanderson said: “If you’re a good enough team things don’t fall on small hinges, you execute better and squeeze teams more consistently than we did today.

“I’ve got to take a bit for this, because I rolled the dice and put the bench on early, that’s why we went down to 14 men.

“I’m channelling my endeavours to get our lads to a state of form that is worthy of the effort we’ve put in so far.

“We’ve got two or three weeks to reinvigorate ourselves for the season’s end.”

London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney praised his team’s display.

He said: “They (Sale) bring a lot of physicality, so you just have to match that mentally and be prepared to take a few hits yourself and the players showed what the team means to them in the way they went about business today.

“We won key moments and it’s so important how you react to those moments you do win.

“A huge credit has to go to those players for executing it, but also the coaches that lay the plans for what is a difficult defence to get through.

“We still need to improve, just because it goes your way it doesn’t mean we should stop improving, so if we can keep improving we can keep making it difficult for other teams.

“We have no pretentions about being anything special, we just want to go about our business and see where it takes us.”