Ashton back in the RWC frame

2015-05-20 11:12
Chris Ashton (AFP)

London - Wing Chris Ashton is set to be given the chance to resurrect his stalled England career when he is expected to be named in Stuart Lancaster's Rugby World Cup training squad on Wednesday.

Ashton, joint leading try scorer at the last World Cup, has fallen out of favour in recent years, missing the last two Six Nations tournaments and since 2013 featured in just two games, on the New Zealand tour last summer.

However, his relentless try-scoring for Saracens has made an irresistible case for a recall and the 28-year-old should get the chance to battle with Jack Nowell, Anthony Watson, Jonny May and Marland Yarde for the winger berths.

Lancaster is expected to include as many as 50 players when he reveals his squad at Twickenham 13:00 but will trim that to 31 by August 31.

Ashton's Saracens team-mate Maro Itoje is expected to be among five uncapped players in Wednesday's squad.

The 20-year-old, who can play lock or in the backrow, has forced his way into unexpected contention after a barnstorming second half of the season after captaining England under-20s to their World Cup triumph last year.

Exeter flyhalf/centre Henry Slade, his hooker club mate Luke Cowan-Dickie, Wasps centre Elliot Daley and Bath's rugby league convert Sam Burgess are also expected to be given a chance to prove themselves.

The absence of Manu Tuilagi, banned from the tournament by Lancaster last week after being convicted of assaulting a policewoman, gives Burgess extra hope of forcing his way in.

Despite playing most of his rugby as a flanker at Bath in his first season in union, he has also filled in at centre and offers Lancaster a powerful option to slot in alongside likely starter at 13 Jonathan Joseph.

France-based duo Steffon Armitage and Nick Abendanon, the current and previous European players of the year, are not expected to be included as Lancaster and the Rugby Football Union stick to their policy of selecting players performing in the English Premiership.

The squad, minus those involved in the Premiership playoffs, will go into a training camp at England's usual Pennyhill Park base next week before spending time in Denver in the United States for an altitude training camp in July.

There will then be three warm-up games, two against France and one against Ireland, before England kick off the tournament against Fiji on September 18.

Read more on:    chris ashton  |  rugby

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