Carling left out of England training

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Will Carling, along with England's three other most senior players - Jeremy Guscott, Rory Underwood and Dean Richards - have been excluded from a private work-out for 43 players at Bisham Abbey next Wednesday. The four players - as well as John Callard, Victor Ubogu, Graham Dawe and Andy Robinson - will be considered when the season starts.

Don Rutherford, technical director of the RFU, said: "Those eight players are well-known and we are aware of exactly how they play. We can afford to scrutinise others at this time. We must stress that this is deliberately called an interim squad.

"It is going to be our only get-together until September. Club tours and commitments make another practice impossible."

Carling's response was diplomatic. "I am keeping my head down and I will play and play and see what happens when the first squad is announced," he said. "I am not saying anything about how I feel but we will wait and see what happens. All I can do is play as well as I can and become as fit again as I can. What happens in England terms is out of my control."

Carling and the other seven excluded players will have to fight off competition from the England A team, who are chosen almost en bloc for the interim squad. Tim Rodber and Martin Bayfield, dropped from the Five Nations team during last season, are recalled.

Richmond have signed a pounds 1.3m sponsorship deal with the second largest computer software company in the world. The Californian-based Oracle was, coincidentally, founded in the Orange Tree pub opposite Richmond athletic ground. The new input of cash adds to the pounds 2.5m injected into the club by the millionaire Ashley Levett last season.

Squad, Digest, page 11