Ashton back in England fold as Jones names pre-season training squad
The 31-year-old switched Toulon for Sale.
Chris Ashton has been included in England’s pre-season training squad after returning to the Gallagher Premiership in order to revive his international career.
Ashton has not added to his 39 caps since Eddie Jones replaced Stuart Lancaster partly due to a succession of bans, but having swapped Toulon for Sale this summer he is back in contention.
“Chris is an exceptional player, I think we have seen with his form at Saracens, then at Toulon he has played exceedingly well,” Ashton said.
“He’s come back to England because he wants to play for England so he has got the right desire, the right attitude so it will be good to work with him.”
Dylan Hartley features in the 44-man squad that will participate in a three-day training camp in Teddington that begins on Saturday.
Hartley missed the summer tour to South Africa due to concussion and has not played since the final match of the NatWest 6 Nations against at Twickenham, but has returned to full fitness.
The only players who were involved against the Springboks not to be present this weekend are flanker Brad Shields, wing Denny Solomona and number eight Billy Vunipola, who was forced home with a recurrence of a fractured arm.
Still missing due to injury, fitness or other are prop Dan Cole, centre Jonathan Joseph, centre Manu Tuilagi and full-back Anthony Watson, but there is no mention at all of scrum-half Danny Care.
Saracens’ South African flanker Michael Rhodes is among a contingent of uncapped players included after qualifying for England on residency grounds.
“This is a pre-season camp so a lot of our players, particularly the ones who went on the South African tour, have just started training with their clubs,” Jones said.
“It’s a chance to get a group of players together to have a chat about the season ahead and look at the important areas in developing the team. With just over 12 months until the World Cup, it’s an important time.
“We haven’t selected everyone. There are a number of players we rested from the tour that we have allowed to continue their pre-season with their clubs.”