Rugby Union: Pears on the road back for England

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The Independent Online
DAVID PEARS, the Harlequins full-back who won three England caps at stand-off, has been named in England's 30-man A-team squad for a training weekend on his own club's pitch on Sunday. Pears has missed 16 months through injury, but expects to begin playing for Harlequins second XV on Saturday.

When Pears was converted to full-back, Paul Challinor took over the stand-off position at Harlequins. However, Challinor played full-back for England's Emerging Players against the All Blacks and the two, who are No 10s by preference, are competing for the full- back place in the A team to play in Italy on 5 February.

England's second team are scheduled to play Italy, Ireland, France and South Africa. Spain have been regular opponents recently, but a couple of half-century wins for England have meant that the Spaniards have been downgraded to meet England's Emerging Players on 6 February.

The A squad contains only six players who lost to New Zealand in November. Then, the side was heavily reinforced by experienced internationals like Stuart Barnes and John Hall, who are in the full England squad for the Calcutta Cup match, plus Jonathan Callard and Kyran Bracken, who made their debuts in the NZ Test.

ENGLAND A SQUAD: Backs: D Pears (Harlequins), P Challinor (Harlequins), A Adebayo (Bath), P Holford (Gloucester), D O'Leary (Harlequins), H Thorneycroft (Northampton), N Beal (Northampton), D Hopley (Wasps), S Potter (Leicester), M Catt (Bath), P Grayson (Northampton), P Hull (Bristol), M Dawson (Northampton), A Kardooni (Leicester). Forwards: C Clark (Bath), M Hynes (Orrell), J Mallett (Bath), A Mullins (Harlequins), K Dunn (Wasps), J Olver (Northampton), A Blackmore (Bristol), D Sims (Gloucester), A Snow (Harlequins), R West (Gloucester), M Greenwood (Wasps), S Ojomoh (Bath), D Ryan (Wasps), C Sheasby (Harlequins), M White (Wasps), R Jenkins (London Irish).

John Davies, the Neath prop who sat out last night's Wales training session for the match against Scotland in Cardiff on Saturday because of an ankle injury, will undergo a fitness test tomorrow, along with Mike Hall, the Cardiff centre who has a groin injury.

Five Nations build-up, page 34

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