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Lancaster looking to make changes


Mike Brown is close to returning for England

Mike Brown is close to returning for England

Mike Brown is close to returning for England

Stuart Lancaster will watch this weekend's Aviva Premiership action closely as he considers whether to respond to the conclusion of England's Grand Slam dream by making changes.

The 2015 World Cup hosts were kicked into submission by Ireland in Sunday's 19-9 RBS 6 Nations defeat in Dublin and they must now hope the Irish slip up in the final two rounds and points difference is needed to settle the title race.

Lancaster may attempt to revive England's Championship by bringing some of the experienced personnel waiting in the wings, stating that the approaching club games will help shape his thinking.

"There are definitely decisions to be made and I'm open-minded about making some changes," Red Rose head coach Lancaster said.

"We have players of the calibre of Courtney Lawes, Geoff Parling, Tom Wood and Brad Barritt back in the equation and Mike Brown is fit.

"Selection will be based on a variety of things, one of which is their individual performances this weekend to demonstrate they are back up to the form and quality of performances we know they can deliver.

"There are big payers in there who have delivered for us in big games in the past.

"When talking about momentum and motivation and all that sort of stuff, sometimes you can freshen the side up a little bit, particularly when you know you have trusted players available.

"They will come into consideration, but a lot will depend on this weekend without doubt."

Lancaster admits England's inexperience was exposed at the Aviva Stadium with Owen Farrell, Manu Tuilagi and Brown unavailable due to injury.

"(Ireland head coach) Joe Schmidt talked after the game about experience, not just at half back but across the board," Lancaster said.

"Paul O'Connell is a world-class line-out operator and we've got two guys there in Dave Attwood and George Kruis who are learning their trade as second rowers.

"And then there is Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray, both of whom are British and Irish Lions. That probably had a part to play in the game.

"We've huge amounts of experience in our backline in Owen, Manu, Brad and Mike, who weren't involved.

"Our backline against Ireland was young and in this game, on the day, we suffered a bit, definitely.

"We also showed tremendous character, resilience, confidence to come back. But without doubt, lessons to be learned from weekend. So we have got to improve."