London - Sam Burgess was called into England's training squad for the Rugby World Cup on Wednesday after barely half a year in the XV-man game following his switch from rugby league.
Wing Chris Ashton was recalled after missing the last two Six Nations, while 20-year-old forward Maro Itoje was one of five uncapped players to make the cut when coach Stuart Lancaster announced a 50-man group.
Toulon flank Steffon Armitage failed to earn a call-up, despite his continued strong form for the reigning three-time European champions, as Lancaster stuck to England's policy of not picking overseas-based players.
The squad will be trimmed to 31 names on September 7.
Burgess began his union career in November after his high-profile departure from Australian side South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL, and has played at center and as a flanker. He has fared better in the back row, although England looks to be selecting Burgess more on reputation and his leadership qualities rather than on form.
England prefers him as a center, and his chances of making the final squad were improved when Manu Tuilagi, who plays in midfield, was told last week he will not be considered for selection following his conviction for assaulting a taxi driver and two female police offices in a late-night incident in April.
Ashton established a reputation as the best finisher in the English game after an excellent start to his international career in 2010, but doubts over his defensive game led him to being dropped by Lancaster for much of the last 18 months.
His only international appearances came as a replacement in two tests against New Zealand last June, when England sent a weakened squad.
Itoje, who can play as a lock or a flank, was captain of the England side that won the Under-20 world championship last year, and has forced his way into the starting team at Saracens. Like with Burgess, Itoje's versatility could prove key to his chances of being included in the final squad.
The other uncapped players are Burgess, flyhalf Henry Slade, centre Elliot Daly, and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie.
Ben Foden, Joe Simpson, Ben Morgan and Tom Croft were not included because of injury but could come into late consideration.
The provisional squad will gather on June 22. England play warm-up matches against France (home and away), and Ireland at Twickenham before the World Cup on home soil.
England's first pool game is against Fiji on September 18.
England 50-man World Cup training squad announced Wednesday:
Mike Brown (Harlequins), Alex Goode (Saracens)
Chris Ashton (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester), Jack Nowell (Exeter),
David Strettle (Saracens), Anthony Watson (Bath), Marland Yarde
Brad Barritt (Saracens), Luther Burrell
(Northampton), Sam Burgess (Bath), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Kyle Eastmond
(Bath), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester)
Danny Cipriani (Sale), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath),
Stephen Myler (Northampton), Henry Slade (Exeter)
Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester)
Calum Clark (Northampton), Nick Easter (Harlequins), James Haskell
(Wasps), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Chris
Robshaw (Harlequins), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Tom Wood (Northampton)
Dave Attwood (Bath),Maro Itoje (Saracens), Courtney Lawes
(Northampton), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), George Kruis (Saracens), Geoff
Parling (Leicester), Ed Slater (Leicester)
(Newcastle), Dan Cole (Leicester), Alex Corbisiero (Northampton), Joe
Marler (Harlequins), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), David
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Rob Webber (Bath), Tom Youngs (Leicester)
May 31 Twickenham: England XV v Barbarians
Rugby World Cup warm-ups
August 15, Twickenham: England v France
August 22, Stade de France: France v England
September 05, Twickenham: England v Ireland
Rugby World Cup pool matches
September 18, Twickenham: England v Fiji
September 26, Twickenham: England v Wales
October 3, Twickenham: England v Australia
October 10, Manchester City Stadium: England v Uruguay