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Johnson calls up uncapped trio for Tests

CAPTAIN Steve Borthwick has urged the unfamiliar faces in England&rsquo;s party for the autumn internationals to grab the opportunity with both hands.<br /><br />Manager Martin Johnson last night included uncapped trio David Barnes, Richard Blaze and Courtney Lawes in a patched-up 32-man squad for the upcoming Tests against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.<br /><br />With injuries ruling out more than a dozen regulars, Johnson has also recalled World Cup-winning fly-half Jonny Wilkinson and veteran forward pair Steve Thompson and Lewis Moody. The raft of absentees has dampened expectations ahead of three tough clashes at Twickenham, but Borthwick refuses to be downbeat, insisting they provide fringe players with the perfect stage.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m incredibly excited &ndash; it&rsquo;s going to be a fantastic challenge. Obviously there are a fair few injuries, but this gives opportunities to other players. There&rsquo;s always been competition for places and it will illustrate how deep our squad is,&rdquo; the Saracens skipper said. &ldquo;We can&rsquo;t do anything about the opposition or the players who are out through injury; what we can do is focus on the players that are here and build the team as well as we possibly can. That&rsquo;s the challenge. We can sit and feel sorry for ourselves about the players who aren&rsquo;t available or we can look at who is available and get ourselves as well-prepared as possible.&rdquo;<br /><br />Barnes&rsquo;s first call-up comes at the age of 33, and he is joined in the squad by his club colleagues and fellow front-rowers, the 35-year-old Duncan Bell and rising star David Wilson. Leicester&rsquo;s Blaze and 20-year-old Lawes, of Northampton, also benefit from the raft of injuries affecting English forwards. Veteran Wilkinson, tipped to regain the No10 shirt after a bright start to his time at Toulon, is one of four players, along with Thompson, Andy Goode and James Haskell, who are based in France.<br /><br /><strong>ENGLAND </strong>SQUAD FOR AUTUMN INTERNATIONALS<br /><br /><strong>Forwards:</strong> S Armitage (London Irish), D Barnes (Bath), D Bell (Bath), R Blaze (Leicester), S Borthwick (Saracens, captain), G Chuter (Leicester), J Crane (Leicester), T Croft (Leicester), L Deacon (Leicester), D Hartley (Northampton), J Haskell (Stade Francais), B Kay (Leicester), C Lawes (Northampton), L Moody (Leicester), T Payne (Wasps), S Thompson (Brive), D Wilson (Bath), J Worsley (Wasps).<br /><br /><strong>Backs:</strong> M Banahan (Bath), D Care (Harlequins), M Cueto (Sale), B Foden (Northampton), S Geraghty (Northampton), A Goode (Brive), D Hipkiss (Leicester), P Hodgson (London Irish), U Monye (Harlequins), D Strettle (Harlequins), M Tait (Sale), M Tindall (Gloucester) R Wigglesworth (Sale), J Wilkinson (Toulon).