ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster is set to thrust Jack Nowell into his side’s crunch Six Nations clash against Ireland on Sunday after retaining the Exeter wing in a 26-man training squad for the Dublin showdown.
Gloucester’s Jonny May started England’s championship victories over Wales at the Millennium Stadium and Italy at Twickenham but was one of 10 players released to their domestic clubs yesterday.
Nowell featured in all five matches in last season’s Six Nations and was inspirational as Exeter beat Harlequins at the weekend after spending last week at England’s Pennyhill Park training base.
Saracens full-back Alex Goode is retained and remains on standby with Mike Brown set to undertake non-contact work today as he continues to work through post-concussion protocol.
Worcester full-back Chris Pennell also remains in camp while Bath tighthead prop Henry Thomas is set to train with the squad today after Newcastle’s Kieran Brookes suffered a hip flexor strain.
“The guys who played against Wales and Italy did really well and the good thing is that others who are now fit and training are pushing hard for selection,” said Lancaster, who names his starting XV on Friday. “We’ve had to make some tough decisions but it’s a good position to be in and those players going back to their clubs have another big weekend ahead to lay down a marker for later in the tournament.”
Forwards: Dave Attwood, Kieran Brookes, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Nick Easter, Dylan Hartley, James Haskell, George Kruis, Joe Marler, Chris Robshaw, Henry Thomas, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs
Backs: Mike Brown, Luther Burrell, Danny Cipriani, George Ford, Alex Goode, Jonathan Joseph, Jack Nowell, Chris Pennell, Billy Twelvetrees, Anthony Watson, Richard Wigglesworth, Ben Youngs