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Lancaster could set Flood barrier

Toby Flood is expected to be omitted from England's Elite Player Squad on Thursday, curtailing his international career, according to Leicester boss Richard Cockerill.

Bath's former Leicester fly-half George Ford is expected to replace 28-year-old Flood in Stuart Lancaster's revised RBS 6 Nations squad.

Lancaster will confirm his tournament squad on Thursday and Leicester rugby director Cockerill expects 60-cap playmaker Flood to miss out.

Former Newcastle Falcon Flood is primed for a summer move to French Top 14 giants Toulouse and England uphold the staunch policy of not selecting overseas-based players.

Head coach Lancaster looks set to pre-empt Flood's move by promoting 20-year-old Ford now rather than wait until the summer.

"We've had discussions about it. It looks like that might be the case, that Toby may not be included, but we'll have to wait and see," Cockerill said in a press conference.

"Toby and Stuart Lancaster have had those discussions and you could intimate that if Toby is left out, that he is moving to France.

"I would be upset if he left us and went to an English club.

"He could still pick Toby but Stuart always looks to the future and, if Toby is not going to be in the country, it probably makes sense to look to the future."

Leicester are understood to have all but completed a deal to bring Gloucester's Freddie Burns to Welford Road next season as Flood's replacement.

Cockerill admitted the 23-year-old "has something about him" when running the rule over Lancaster's options at fly-half.

"George Ford has been on great form," said Cockerill.

"He understands the game and kicks very well, he is a threat off the line as well.

"Freddie Burns has been the heir apparent, and has been off form, but he has something about him.

"Stephen Myler has been on very good form for Northampton and they are second in the table.

"Owen (Farrell) gives them plenty of options.

"They are just slightly shy of experience at that level, and that is the one thing Toby can offer.

"Stuart will make the right call and if that is not with Toby, the world will go on."

England boss Lancaster will be forced into a raft of EPS changes to account for a hefty injury list.

Alex Corbisiero, Tom Croft, Geoff Parling, Ben Foden, Manu Tuilagi, Christian Wade and Marland Yarde are all expected to miss the entire Six Nations.

Bath flyer Anthony Watson, Leicester's fit-again Miles Benjamin and Gloucester's Jonny May have been touted as potential wing replacements for the absent Wade and Yarde.

Flood made his England debut in 2006, progressing to the Rugby World Cup 2007 squad as an injury replacement for Newcastle team-mate Jamie Noon.

The Frimley-born pivot appeared as a replacement in England's quarter-final, semi-final and final clashes, as Brian Ashton's side succumbed to narrow defeat to South Africa in the showpiece clash.

A product of the same Newcastle academy that produced Jonny Wilkinson, Noon and Mathew Tait, Flood made 76 Falcons appearances between 2004 and 2008.

Leicester's current club captain, Flood has clocked up 107 Tigers appearances in five years.


From Belfast Telegraph