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RUGBY: Ford included in England squad
Updated 3:59pm Thursday 9th January 2014 in Sport
BATH youngster George Ford was today included in Stuart Lancaster's England Elite Player Squad.
Former Leicester playmaker Ford is the only change to Lancaster's EPS, with Freddie Burns keeping his place alongside first-choice fly-half Owen Farrell.
Leicester fly-half Toby Flood will join Toulouse in the summer, and England do not select overseas-based players. So Lancaster has chosen to jettison the former Newcastle man now rather than in the summer.
Flood's England career therefore appears to be over after winning 60 caps, while former Leicester man Ford steps into the squad on a full-time basis.
England head coach 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."
Lancaster has made only one official change to his EPS, but eight England Saxons stars are set to make senior England appearances during the RBS 6 Nations, including Bath wing Anthony Watson.
Northampton's Luther Burrell, Exeter duo Tom Johnson and Jack Nowell, Jonny May from Gloucester and Matt Mullan from Wasps, Leicester's Ed Slater and Sale prop Henry Thomas, who has been linked with a move to Bath, complete the set.
Props Mullan and Thomas step up to cover Bath tighthead David Wilson's calf injury which could sideline him for a month, the majority of the Six Nations tournament.
Lancaster has promoted these eight Saxons as cover for Manu Tuilagi, Tom Croft, Marland Yarde, Alex Corbisierio, Christian Wade, Geoff Parling and Ben Foden, as well as the doubt over Wilson.
Bath lock Dave Attwood are also included in the EPS squad with hooker Rob Webber training with the Egland Six Nations squad.
Lancaster confirmed he has retained his injured crew of players with a hope he can take them on England's summer tour to New Zealand.
The England boss admitted he could not reasonably select Flood, despite pleading with the 28-year-old not to move to France in the summer.
Lancaster said: "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.
"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."
England Senior Elite Performance Squad
Forwards: Attwood (Bath), Cole (Leicester), Corbisiero (Northampton), Croft (Leicester), Hartley (Northampton), Kvesic (Gloucester), Launchbury (Wasps), Lawes (Northampton), Marler (Harlequins), Morgan (Gloucester), Parling (Leicester), Robshaw (Harlequins), B Vunipola (Saracens), M Vunipola (Saracens), Wilson (Bath), Wood (Northampton), Youngs (Leicester).
Backs: Ashton (Saracens), Barritt (Saracens), Brown (Harlequins), Burns (Gloucester), Care (Harlequins), Dickson (Northampton), Eastmond (Bath), Farrell (Saracens), Foden (Northampton), Ford (Bath), Goode (Saracens), Tuilagi (Leicester), Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Wade (Wasps), Yarde (London Irish), Youngs (Leicester).
England RBS Six Nations squad:
Forwards: Attwood (Bath), Cole (Leicester), Hartley (Northampton), Kvesic (Gloucester), Johnson (Exeter), Launchbury (Wasps), Lawes (Northampton), Marler (Harlequins), Morgan (Gloucester), Mullan (Wasps), Robshaw (Harlequins), Slater (Leicester), Thomas (Sale Sharks), B Vunipola (Saracens), M Vunipola (Saracens), Webber (Bath), Wood (Northampton), Youngs (Leicester)
Backs: Ashton (Saracens), Barritt (Saracens), Brown (Harlequins), Burrell (Northampton), Care (Harlequins), Dickson (Northampton), Eastmond (Bath), Farrell (Saracens), Ford (Bath), Goode (Saracens), May (Gloucester), Myler (Northampton), Nowell (Exeter), Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Youngs (Leicester), Watson (Bath), Wigglesworth (Saracens).
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