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5 things about the England squad

England head coach Eddie Jones will announce the first elite player squad of his reign on Wednesday as the countdown continues to next month's RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland at Murrayfield.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five talking points ahead of the squad's unveiling.


Jones has maintained an intense watching brief since beginning work with England last month, being a spectator at many Aviva Premiership and European Champions Cup games. While there will be a considerable number of familiar names in his squad, an influx of exciting new talent should also be expected, with players like Wasps centre Elliot Daly, Exeter midfield prospect Sam Hill, Saracens forward Maro Itoje and Harlequins flanker Jack Clifford all probable call-ups.


Although England experienced a miserable 2015 World Cup campaign under Jones' coaching predecessor Stuart Lancaster, the Australian could retain around two thirds of that squad as he builds towards this season's Six Nations. Injuries to several players will also play a part in his thinking, but established names that could miss out might include Saracens centre Brad Barritt, Harlequins prop Joe Marler, Exeter lock Geoff Parling and Northampton flanker Tom Wood.


No England captaincy announcement will be made at Twickenham on Wednesday, but Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley remains a firm favourite to land that job ahead of England facing Scotland in 25 days' time. World Cup skipper Chris Robshaw is set to be an integral part of Jones' plans, yet leadership duties will move elsewhere, with Hartley being his anticipated preferred candidate.


Powerful Leicester centre Tuilagi has not played Test rugby since England faced New Zealand in Hamilton almost 19 months ago. He suffered a serious groin injury later that year, and he only started his comeback as a second-half substitute for Tigers against Aviva Premiership rivals Northampton last Saturday. He is some way short of full match fitness, but it is likely that Jones will name him in the squad, looking ahead to later Six Nations challenges this season and a three-Test summer tour of Australia.


There will inevitably be those intent on building up a full-scale battle between George Ford and Owen Farrell for fly-half starting duty against Scotland, but such a scenario is unlikely to unfold, with Jones thought to be clear in his mind about Ford wearing the number 10 shirt at Murrayfield and Farrell starting alongside him at inside centre. Ford or Farrell looks set to be a debate for another day - probably when Tuilagi makes his Test match return.


From Belfast Telegraph