Danny Care could play himself into World Cup contention, says England forwards coach Richard Cockerill.
Harlequins scrum-half Care, 35, has been recalled to the England squad almost four years after his last international appearance.
England face the Barbarians on Sunday, with a three-Test tour in Australia beginning in Perth on 2 July.
“Danny is a competitor. He wouldn’t be here if he didn’t have that focus to go to the World Cup,” Cockerill said.
Care, who has won 84 caps, will be 36 years old when the 2023 World Cup kicks off in France.
“If Danny’s playing well enough and he’s playing better than anybody else, young or old, then he’ll come into contention,” Cockerill added.
“We need that balance in our group. I don’t think age will be a barrier, whether young or old. They will be picked on how well they’re playing.
“I’d say he’s very keen to compete for a spot.”
Speaking before Sunday’s match at Twickenham, Cockerill said Care – who last represented his nation against Japan in November 2018 – has “always been in England’s thoughts” when it comes to selection.
Care made a five-man shortlist for this year’s Premiership player of the season after another impressive campaign for Quins.
Northampton Saints back row Lewis Ludlum, 25, said working with Care for the first time in his career has been “unbelievable”.
“On and off the pitch he is a great bloke to have around the place, offering his experience and with his mindset going into this camp – so he’s a welcome addition,” added Ludlam.
“Playing against him the last couple of years, he’s been unbelievable. Seeing that we have the opportunity to learn from him is something that is really exciting for me and a lot of the younger boys as well.”