Lewis Moody is expected to lead England on their end-of-season tour to Australia and New Zealand after Steve Borthwick’s knee injury ruled him out of selection for the enlarged 44-man squad.
Moody took over as captain for the final match of the Six Nations, a 12-10 defeat to France in Paris, when Saracens lock Borthwick was forced to pull out through injury and the Leicester flanker is set to continue in the role on the five-match tour.
Olly Barkley’s two-year England exile is over after he was included in the expanded group following a terrific end to the season with Bath, who have won 11 of their last 12 matches to qualify for the Premiership play-offs.
Inside centre Barkley earned the last of his 23 caps in June 2008.
Sale flyhalf Charlie Hodgson and Harlequins’ Saracens-bound winger David Strettle return after spells out of the international reckoning, while Shane Geraghty is one of four No 10s named by team manager Martin Johnson despite struggling for game time at Northampton over the last couple of months.
Gloucester lock Dave Attwood, Leicester second-rower Geoff Parling, Newcastle prop Jon Golding and Leeds’ South African-born flanker Hendrie Fourie are four of the nine uncapped players included in the squad.
Focus on youth
A host of injuries to key players meant Johnson’s hands were tied during the November Tests and the Six Nations but he was free to name a strong, well-equipped touring squad and has looked to youth in many departments.
The likes of lock Courtney Lawes, scrum-halves Ben Youngs and Joe Simpson, and centre Dominic Waldouck are all players with exciting futures who Johnson will be keen to give playing time to on tour.
Notable omissions are London Wasps pair Phil Vickery and Tom Rees, who both returned to first-team action at the end of the Premiership season after long spells out through injury.
Flanker Rees, who has been tipped as a future England captain, was included in the Saxons squad that will be participating in the Churchill Cup in June while prop Vickery was left out altogether to allow him to complete his rehabilitation.
Riki Flutey, who will leave Brive in the close season to return to Wasps, is out injured and is the only player missing who started against France in the Six Nations.
There is also no room for flyhalf Danny Cipriani, who sustained a suspected broken thumb playing for Wasps at the weekend, but probably would not have made the squad anyway ahead of his September move to new Super 15 franchise the Rebels.
Leicester lock Louis Deacon and London Irish scrum-half Paul Hodgson have also missed out.
England depart Down Under on May 31 for a tour that includes two Tests against Australia, on June 12 and 19, as well as two midweek matches against the Australian Barbarians and a game against the New Zealand Maoris.
Johnson’s side take on the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 30 before they fly out. — AFP