England: Stuart Lancaster names Elite Player Squad plus cover for Six Nations as injuries pile-up
England will be without a number of key players such as Manu Tuilagi, Alex Corbisiero and Tom Croft forcing Lancaster to name a second squad for next month's tournament
Stuart Lancaster has named the 33-man Elite Player Squad that will be tasked with attempting a clean sweep of the Six Nations, a Tour of New Zealand and the autumn internationals as his 2015 World Cup plans begin to take off.
As well as the 33-men that make up the squad, Lancaster has named an additional 11 men that make-up the group that will tackle the Six Nations, with their first match getting underway against France in Paris on February 1.
The extra squad is named due to the mounting injuries that Lancaster has on his hands, with key players such as Alex Corbisiero, Tom Croft and Manu Tuilagi ruled out. There is the expected inclusion of the uncapped George Ford, as regular Toby Flood is dropped ahead of his move to France at the end of the season, which looks to have brought to an end an international career that has yielded 60 caps and 301 points.
There is no room either for Henry Trinder, who had been on the cusp of inclusion during the recent autumn internationals.
Lancaster said: "We have kept changes to a minimum because we believe this squad can take us forward into 2015.
"I am delighted for George, who is rewarded for his form for Bath and we are excited about including him in the senior Elite Player Squad."
Despite the change of including Ford for Flood being the only change to the EPS squad, a number of players will provide cover in a specially named Six Nations squad.
Northampton's Luther Burrell, Exeter's Jack Nowell, Gloucester's Jonny May, Leicester's Ed Slater, Sale's Henry Thomas and Bath's young wing Anthony Watson are all included and could be utilised in the Six Nations for the first time across February and March.
Northampton's Stephen Myler, Bath's Rob Webber, Saracens' Richard Wigglesworth, Wasps prop Matt Mullan and Chiefs flanker Tom Johnson could all return for England having featured in the past.
"We are hopeful that some of those injured may be available before the end of the Six Nations and certainly for the (summer) New Zealand tour," Lancaster continued.
"I have met Toby Flood several times and told him I really wanted him to stay at Leicester and play for England.
"He has made a lifestyle choice and we respect that, but given the RFU's policy of not selecting players based overseas save for exceptional circumstances it was important that we allow others such as George Ford to progress.
"Stephen Myler has a chance to lay down a marker when he trains with us while we have decided that Freddie Burns should get more international game time with the Saxons against the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds at Kingsholm on January 25, while Rob Webber and Richard Wigglesworth will give us some depth to our training."
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