England to give youth a chance as Ashton and Youngs are axed

ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster felt the form of his young players was too good to ignore after axing experienced pair Chris Ashton and Ben Youngs last night from his 26-man squad to travel to France for Saturday’s Six Nations opener.

Uncapped backs Luther Burrell, George Ford, Jack Nowell and Anthony Watson are included ahead of tomorrow’s team selection.

Lancaster said: “The young players have really impressed and based on their club form and what they have done in training with us they deserve their opportunity.

“We are excited about the players we are taking to Paris and what a great place to open our RBS Six Nations campaign.”

Wing Ashton has scored 18 tries in 37 Tests, though last year struggled to replicate the explosive form which followed his England debut in 2010 and missed out on a call-up to the British and Irish Lions squad.

Youngs has also been a prominent member of the England team under Lancaster and the Red Rose chief insists the door is not closed for selection later in the tournament.

Lancaster added: “Ben Youngs misses out this time but he is a quality player and I am sure he will respond in the same way Danny [Care] did at the start of the year.

“We have been pleased with the form of Chris Ashton recently. However, Jack Nowell has made great progress on the right wing and has also delivered in big games for Exeter Chiefs and we feel it is the right time to look at another option in that position.
“Chris remains an important member of the squad and I am sure he will be working hard to regain that position.”