Carling welcomed back into the England fold

Rugby Union
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The Independent Online
Will Carling is back in the England squad and all is right with the rugby world - well almost. All that remains now on the troubled England front is to name his successor as captain. The favourites are the Bath centre Phil de Glanville and the Wasps flanker Lawrence Dallaglio, both of whom captain their club.

The restoration of two members of the old order in the persons of Carling and his centre partner, Jeremy Guscott, suggests that normal service may be resumed shortly in England's crowded international programme, which begins against Italy on 23 November and may yet see Australia added to it either on 2 or 16 November.

Not only has the coach, Jack Rowell, drafted Carling and Guscott into a squad that has expanded from 43 to 45, but he can also expect to see them at Bisham Abbey tomorrow for a training session because the English Professional Rugby Union Clubs, who represent the 24 members of the top two divisions, has announced that players will be released for the session. The players - with the exception of the Coventry prop Robin Hardwick - boycotted the first get-together, while the Rugby Football Union cancelled the second to avoid a confrontation and a potentially embarrassing climbdown.

"We had originally left some famous names out who could, subject to form and fitness, return, and Will and Jerry are big names," Rowell said. "They are outstanding attacking players and they have been very fresh and positive when they have played this season. They've done a lot over the years and it was up to them to show they still want it. They've certainly done that."

Carling, who retired after leading England for 59 of his 66 international appearances, believes he still has something to offer at Test level and he echoed Rowell's words. "England are prepared to adopt the Southern Hemisphere attitude that age does not matter. I am not against putting young players in a Test team, but they have to earn their places by right," he said.

"I have heard that some people believe I am not interested in playing for England again. I find that insulting. I still have a great desire to play for my country."

A relieved Rowell now has two months to prepare for Italy and he said: "We've got to press on. England have a very important mini-season, as it were, in the autumn and we have to get our arms around it. There's been enough delay."

Some famous names are still out in the cold, including the talismanic figure of the Leicester captain and No 8, Dean Richards, and his club colleague Rory Underwood, together with the Bath quartet of Jon Callard, Graham Dawe, Andy Robinson and Victor Ubogu. "We've spoken to them," Rowell said, "and it's quite simple. They are all class players. If they are showing the fitness and freshness and the form then there is no reason why they shouldn't get in. It's up to them."

The flanker Hemi Taylor has a shoulder injury and has withdrawn from the Wales team to play France at Cardiff Arms Park tomorrow. He is replaced by Ebbw Vale's Kingsley Jones.

ENGLAND TRAINING SQUAD: Full-backs: M Catt (Bath), N Beal (Northampton), T Stimpson (Newcastle). Wings: J Sleightholme, A Adebayo (both Bath), J Naylor (Orrell), T Underwood (Newcastle), D Luger (Harlequins). Centres: W Carling (Harlequins), P de Glanville, J Guscott (both Bath), W Greenwood (Leicester), N Greenstock (Wasps), A Blyth (Newcastle). Stand-offs: P Grayson (Northampton), A King (Wasps), P Challinor (Harlequins). Scrum- halves: M Dawson (Northampton), K Bracken (Saracens), A Gomarsall (Wasps), A Healey (Leicester).

Props: G Rowntree, D Garforth (both Leicester), J Leonard (Harlequins), R Hardwick (Coventry), J Mallett (Bath). Hookers: M Regan (Bristol), R Cockerill (Leicester), P Greening (Gloucester), N McCarthy (Bath). Locks: M Johnson (Leicester), G Archer (Newcastle), D Sims, R West (both Gloucester), J Fowler (Sale), S Shaw (Bristol). Back row: T Rodber (Northampton), L Dallaglio, C Sheasby, P Scrivener (all Wasps), B Clarke (Richmond), A Diprose, R Hill (both Saracens), S Ojomoh (Bath), M Corry (Bristol).