S fly-half Danny Cipriani admits it will come as no surprise if he is left in the international wilderness when England manager Martin Johnson unveils his Six Nations blueprint today.
Johnson has consistently overlooked rising star Cipriani since taking charge in the summer of 2008, while the 22-year-old’s fledgling England career has also been hampered by a series of injuries.
Ciprani made his comeback from a fractured fibula last month but, with record points scorer Jonny Wilkinson rediscovering his best form for Toulon this season and Toby Flood fit and playing well, the young pretender concedes he may not yet have done enough to warrant a recall.
“It’s about me playing well enough so that I can get back in the [England] side,” said Cipriani.
“I’m not sure if I’ve had enough game time so I’ll understand if I’m not [in the squad]. But a few more games under my belt and hopefully I will be ready. I have played in the last three games and enjoyed it.”
Johnson is under pressure to breathe some creativity into his side when he names his 32-man elite player squad for the tournament.
Widely tipped for recalls are London Irish back Delon Armitage, Brive inside centre Riki Flutey, and Harlequins No8 Nick Easter, while a number of hopefuls could also get the nod.
Ben Foden and Chris Ashton, who have enjoyed storming seasons for Northampton, are among those clamouring for a shot at the big time, along with props Dan Cole, of Leicester, and Worcester’s Matt Mullan, Bath centre Shontayne Hape and Saracens flanker Andy Saul.
Experienced forwards Andrew Sheridan and Phil Vickery are both sidelined by injury, and Johnson must also decide whether to keep faith with captain Steve Borthwick in the second row.