Flood: Cipriani future in his hands
Stuart Lancaster will make "no guarantees" in his bid to dissuade Danny Cipriani from moving to France, according to former England fly-half Toby Flood.
England head coach Lancaster met Cipriani this week and will on Wednesday announce his senior and Saxons squads ahead of the RBS 6 Nations.
Cipriani is expected to be named in the Saxons group in a move that could lead the Sale fly-half to join French Top 14 champions Toulon this summer.
England refuse to select overseas-based players, save for "exceptional circumstances" - a policy that ended Flood's Test career when he left Leicester last year.
Flood revealed sympathy for Cipriani's position, should he be deemed England's fourth-choice fly-half in Lancaster's updated squads.
"Stuart can't guarantee someone a position - he can't guarantee anything," Flood told Press Association Sport.
"He's a bright guy, he won't sit there and say either 'actually you know what, you're fourth choice', or 'you're going to play'.
"He's smart enough to realise he will say 'you're in the mix, and you're in a position where we do believe you can add to the side'. And that decision then falls on that player to make the call.
"And that is true from Stuart - I think he's going to say 'you've got an opportunity to fight it out, but at the same time it's your decision'. And that's all Stuart can do - he will make no guarantees, because he can't. You can't hedge on England. You either get in or you don't.
"And the difference in that only comes down to form and timing, and Stuart can't control either of those for someone. He will always be honest and say 'you're in the mix' and that's probably as far as he can go."
He continued: "The hard thing is, if you keep hearing 'you're in the top three' or 'you're in the top four', it doesn't really sell it to you.
"It's fantastic to be in the top four in England, of course - that's a huge honour. But at the same time maybe you can go somewhere else and be number one and do something completely different.
"Third or fourth choice means if everyone's fit and well you don't play for your country. You come in for two or three days a week every so often, but then you go back to your club to play.
"That's a tough position to be in: you can feel as though you're always dipping your toe in the water but it's never quite yours."
Former Newcastle playmaker Flood is now settled and thriving at Toulouse after his summer switch from Leicester.
The 29-year-old will face his ex-Tigers team-mate and England incumbent George Ford when Bath pitch camp at the Stade Ernest Wallon on Sunday.
Flood believes Ford can "nail down" England's fly-half berth with "another big performance" when the Six Nations opens next month with an intimidating trip to Wales.
Toulouse's 60-cap pivot also expects a stern challenge from Bath's increasingly potent midfield.
"I think George will be number one in the Six Nations - certainly for the first couple of games," said Flood, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, official vehicle of Premiership Rugby and a Rugby World Cup 2015 partner.
"But he needs another big performance in there, really, to nail that down.
"England have five guys chomping at the bit, with Owen Farrell, Stephen Myler, Cipriani and Freddie Burns too.
"That's the Jonny Wilkinson effect: every young kid wanted to emulate Jonny and drop that goal, so now you've got five guys of a similar age here who are desperate to get involved.
"There's a lot of layers to Bath's attack, with George, Sam Burgess, Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph all options in midfield.
"George comes to the line really well, waits for a defence to make a decision and then usually chooses the right option. Kyle is another pair of hands and Burgess can cause absolute mayhem. They are willing to take risks, play with flair and take things on.
"It's nice to see an English team with almost carte blanche."
:: Toby Flood is a Land Rover ambassador. Keep up to date with the latest Land Rover rugby activity by following @LandRoverRugby on Twitter.