ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster is set to hand veteran Harlequins No8 Nick Easter an international recall when he announces his squad for the opening clash of the Six Nations against Wales today.
Lancaster will name a 34-strong party ahead of next week’s training camp for the Millennium Stadium showdown on 6 February and is expected to include 36-year-old Easter, who won the last of his 47 caps at the 2011 World Cup.
Sale’s Danny Cipriani is also set to be included alongside fellow fly-halves George Ford, Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler, as is Bath centre Jonathan Joseph.
British and Irish Lions Alex Corbisiero, Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs and Geoff Parling were all ruled out of England’s autumn international programme but are expected to return.
Code-switcher Sam Burgess is set to receive his first rugby union international call-up and could feature for England Saxons in their clash with Irish Wolfhounds in Cork on 30 January.
Northampton full-back Ben Foden, meanwhile, has suffered a major blow in his quest to force his way into England’s World Cup plans after being sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury. The 29-year-old was replaced early in the first half of Saints’ European Champions Cup victory over Ospreys on Sunday and scans have revealed a ruptured his left anterior cruciate ligament.
Foden won the last on his 34 caps in November 2013 and was expected to be named in the Saxons squad alongside Burgess before becoming the latest England prospect to succumb to injury.
Gloucester No8 Ben Morgan and Wasps second row Joe Launchbury have been ruled out of the entire Six Nations while fellow lock Courtney Lawes is set to miss the first two weeks after undergoing ankle surgery. Doubts remain over centre Manu Tuilagi’s fitness after he revealed his recovery from a groin injury has stalled.