England suffered a blow to preparations for their Six Nations opener against Scotland after Joe Marler tested positive for COVID-19, while a fire near the team hotel also caused disruption.

Eddie Jones is readying his side for the Calcutta Cup tussle at Murrayfield on February 5, as England bid to improve on last season's disappointing Six Nations performance.

The Red Rose finished fifth in the tournament after just two wins, and preparations for this year's edition have been hit by injury, with captain Owen Farrell set to miss the Scotland game.

Courtney Lawes – initially one of the favourites to deputise as captain – is sitting out training this week because of head injury protocols. Nick Isiekwe has joined up with the squad as cover for Lawes, while George Ford has also been added, and it was revealed on Monday that Elliot Daly is in for Jonny May, who is out with a knee injury.

England announced a fresh blow, with a team statement saying: "Joe Marler has tested positive for COVID and has withdrawn from the training camp in Brighton. All of the other England players and staff have undergone daily lateral flow testing – all of which returned negative results."

England are training in Brighton this week; however, a suspected electrical fire close to their seafront hotel on Tuesday caused the team to seek alternative accommodation, with a 30-metre cordon enforced and nearby premises evacuated.

England will be without Joe Marler when they face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday after the prop tested positive for coronavirus.

Marler returned a positive lateral flow test on Monday and immediately went into isolation.

The 31-year-old will isolate for 10 days after a PCR test confirmed he has contracted COVID-19.

All of the other England players and staff returned negative lateral flow tests, with additional PCR test results not yet received.

Owen Farrell rejoined the squad on Monday after he missed the 69-3 hammering of Tonga on Saturday, having tested positive for coronavirus last week.

Marler came off the bench in that thrashing at Twickenham, but will play no part against the Wallabies.

He will hope to be available to return when Eddie Jones' side take on world champions South Africa on November 20.

Eddie Jones says Joe Marler's decision to withdraw from England's Six Nations squad does not mean his Test career is over.

Marler on Monday revealed he has opted against playing in the upcoming tournament so he can remain with his family during the coronavirus pandemic.

He tweeted: "Always grateful for the opportunity so not an easy decision, but want to do right by my family in these crazy times and won't be meeting up with the squad for this tournament. Look forward to watching the team rip in. Go well."

Marler announced his international retirement in 2018 in order to spend more time with his family but has gone on to take his tally of caps to 72 after reversing that decision.

England head coach Jones said the 30-year-old Harlequins prop, who also made himself unavailable for the tour of Australia in 2016 as he needed a rest, will be considered when he is ready to play for his country again.

"Joe has made a decision that we 100 per cent support," Jones said at the 2021 virtual Six Nations launch.

"When he decides to make himself available again we will have another look at selection. And that's how we look at it - 100 per cent. No ifs or buts, it's as clear as day.

"There will be some time in the future when he's ready to come back and will get selected. We'll take that when it comes.

"Joe has been an outstanding player during my time with England and I'm sure he was outstanding before that.

"He is tough, abrasive, a good defender, a great guy off the field. He's a bit nutty, but we like that, it's good to have characters like that in the squad."

England have also lost Sam Underhill (hip) and Joe Launchbury (fibula stress fracture) for the defence of their title, which they start against Scotland at Twickenham a week on Saturday.

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