After a month on the sidelines, Ross Ford believes he will be fit to challenge for a place in Scotland's team when the Six Nations Championship gets underway next month.

It has been a strange year since the man of few words suddenly found himself catapulted into the limelight last season as he took over the captaincy of the national team when Kelly Brown, who had been asked to do the job, was injured in the final Heineken Cup match and ruled out of the tournament.

The British & Irish Lions hooker took on the role manfully and after a whitewash campaign got his reward with a Heineken Cup semi-final appearance with Edinburgh before he became the first man to lead the national side through a tour where they claimed a 100% success rate with wins over Australia, Fiji and Samoa.

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Brown's return to fitness for the subsequent Autumn series brought a loss of collective and individual form as the team suffered another whitewash and Ford lost his starting place for the first time in years for the final match against Tonga in Aberdeen.

Thereafter, he looked to be getting back to his best when he suffered another setback in the first of the festive derby meetings with Glasgow Warriors as a shoulder injury forced his early departure, but he reckons he is on course to regaining full fitness.

"I think the medics are happy with the way things are going, it is getting better every day so, realistically, I could make that game [v England] no problem," he said.

"I have not played for the past couple of weeks but it is just a matter of being sensible and making sure that I am always moving forward, no steps back and so far it has been going pretty well."

Ford reckoned he could have played for Edinburgh at Saracens last weekend but admitted it would have been risky. However, he also knows he can take nothing for granted so he must prove he is ready in every sense if he is to take to the Twickenham field.

"I've been able to do more fitness work than usual and switch off from the rugby side for a couple of weeks . . . I'm looking at the positive things," he said. "It has allowed me to work on my fitness but I still have to prove that I am worth playing, so I have to knuckle down in training."