Lancaster keeps options open
Published 05/02/2013 | 20:01
England coach Stuart Lancaster has kept his midfield options open by including Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt and Billy Twelvetrees in a 25-man squad that will fly to Dublin for Sunday's RBS 6 Nations game against Ireland.
Tuilagi is fit again after missing England's Calcutta Cup victory over Scotland and Lancaster must decide whether to bring the powerful Leicester centre straight back into the starting line-up.
Uncapped Wasps number eight Billy Vunipola is also in contention to replace Ben Morgan, who has not been included in the travelling party after suffering a sprained ankle on Saturday.
The Gloucester forward will remain with the England squad to continue treatment and, although not officially ruled out, a team spokesman said he was "unlikely to figure" at the Aviva Stadium.
Vunipola, the dynamic younger brother of England prop Mako, came through both training sessions on Tuesday after recovering from an ankle problem. The 21-year-old will compete with Leicester's Thomas Waldrom for a place in the final 23-man match-day squad, most likely on the bench.
James Haskell is expected to be promoted into the starting line-up at blindside flanker, with Tom Wood set to shift across the back row to replace Morgan at number eight.
England are permitted under the terms of their agreement with Premiership Rugby to travel to away games with two additional players to their 23-man match-day squad. Lancaster will confirm his midfield and back row selections when he finalises the England line-up on Friday morning.
Of those definitely missing out, Northampton full-back Ben Foden has been released for a second straight week with David Strettle again preferred.
BACKS - C Ashton (Saracens), B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), O Farrell (Saracens), T Flood (Leicester Tigers), A Goode (Saracens), D Strettle (Saracens), M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
FORWARDS - D Cole (Leicester Tigers), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (London Wasps), J Launchbury (London Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), J Marler (Harlequins), G Parling (Leicester Tigers), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Vunipola (London Wasps), M Vunipola (Saracens), T Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), D Wilson (Bath Rugby), T Wood (Northampton Saints), T Youngs (Leicester Tigers).