Six Nations: Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton should be fit for England opener - Cullen

Sexton was part of the Ireland side which secured a historic first win over New Zealand on Irish soil in November
Sexton was part of the Ireland side which secured a historic first home win over New Zealand in November

Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton is nearing a return to full fitness ahead of the crunch Six Nations opener against England, according to Leinster boss Leo Cullen.

The world player of the year has been struggling with a knee injury and hasn't played in almost a month.

But Cullen is confident he will be ready for the Dublin showdown on February 2.

"Johnny is good, he was back running last week," Cullen told BBC 5 live.

"He is not a million miles away, and hopefully we will see him out in green over the course of the next few weeks."

Meanwhile England will monitor captain Owen Farrell's thumb injury over the coming days before deciding whether to call up a replacement for their training camp in Portugal.

Farrell had a small procedure on a tendon on Friday, and will need around seven to 10 days to recover, with England boss Eddie Jones saying he is "cautiously optimistic" the Saracens playmaker will be fit to lead the side at the Aviva.

England's players have two days off following their European exertions before heading to the Algarve in midweek.

Jones was handed a further scare on Sunday, with flanker Brad Shields withdrawing from Wasps' meeting with Leinster with a side strain, and lock Joe Launchbury leaving the field with a neck problem.

However, Wasps boss Dai Young says both moves were precautionary.

"I don't see any reason why they won't be fit [for England]," Young told BBC Radio 5 live.

"They might have a day or two when they are not quite right, but hopefully in the next 48 hours we will see them back to normal."