sport

England call up fly-half Ford

Bath fly-half George Ford has been named in England's Elite Player Squad in place of Toby Flood ahead of the 2014 6 Nations Championship.

Ford, 20, replaces Flood, 28, in the sole change in the mid-season squad revision under the Rugby Football Union's agreement with Premiership Rugby Ltd.

England open their Six Nations campaign away to France on February 1 and this EPS will also be the basis for a three-Test series against the All Blacks in June in New Zealand.

Tigers stand-off Flood will join Toulouse in the summer, and England head coach Stuart Lancaster does not select overseas-based players.

Flood's England career therefore appears to be over after winning 60 caps, while former Leicester man Ford steps into the squad on a full-time basis for the first time after impressing with the Saxons.

Ford won the world junior World Player of the Year in 2011, the only northern hemisphere player to have done so, and was chosen ahead of Danny Cipriani, who had put himself back in the frame with some encouraging performances for Sale.

With injury concerns surrounding a host of senior England men, Lancaster has taken the option to promote a host of second-string men on a short-term basis.

Northampton's Luther Burrell, Exeter duo Tom Johnson and Jack Nowell, Jonny May from Gloucester and Matt Mullan from Wasps are all among that eight.

Leicester's Ed Slater, Sale prop Henry Thomas and Bath's young wing Anthony Watson complete the set.

Props Mullan and Thomas step up to cover tighthead David Wilson's calf injury which could sideline him for a month, the majority of the 6 Nations tournament.

Lancaster has promoted these eight Saxons as cover for the injured Manu Tuilagi (chest), Tom Croft (knee), Marland Yarde (hip), Alex Corbisierio (knee), Christian Wade (foot), Geoff Parling (shoulder) and Ben Foden (knee), as well as the doubt over Wilson.

Lancaster said: "I am delighted for George (Ford) who is rewarded for his form for Bath and we are excited about including him in the Senior Elite Player Squad.

"We have kept changes to a minimum because we believe that this squad can take us forward into 2015 and we are hopeful that some of those injured may be available before the end of the Six Nations and certainly for the New Zealand tour.

"I have met Toby Flood several times and told him I really wanted him to stay at Leicester and play for England. He has made a lifestyle choice and we respect that but given the RFU's policy of not selecting players based overseas save for exceptional circumstances it was important that we allow others such as George Ford to progress.

"Stephen Myler has a chance to lay down a marker when he trains with us while we have decided that Freddie Burns should get more international game time with the Saxons."

England Senior Elite Performance Squad:

Forwards: Attwood (Bath), Cole (Leicester), Hartley (Northampton), Kvesic (Gloucester), Johnson (Exeter), Launchbury (Wasps), Lawes (Northampton), Marler (Harlequins), Morgan (Gloucester), Mullan (Wasps), Robshaw (Harlequins), Slater (Leicester), Thomas (Sale Sharks), B Vunipola (Saracens), M Vunipola (Saracens), Webber (Bath), Woo (Northampton), Youngs (Leicester)

Backs: Ashton (Saracens), Barritt (Saracens), Brown (Harlequins), Burrell (Northampton), Care (Harlequins), Dickson (Northampton), Eastmond (Bath), Farrell (Saracens), Ford (Bath), Goode (Saracens), May (Gloucester), Myler (Northampton), Nowell (Exeter), Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Youngs (Leicester), Watson (Bath), Wigglesworth (Saracens).