Six Nations: Stuart Lancaster calls Bath fly-half George Ford into Elite Player Squad
Last Updated: 10/01/14 8:46am
Stuart Lancaster has called Bath fly-half George Ford into his Elite Player Squad in place of Leicester's 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 Limited.
England open their Six Nations campaign away to France on February 1 aiming to make up for last season's grand slam heartache and this EPS will also provide the basis for a three-Test series against world champions, the All Blacks, in June in New Zealand.
"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."
Tigers stand-off Flood will join Toulouse in the summer, and England head coach Lancaster and the Rugby Football Union have a policy of not selecting overseas-based players.
Flood's England career 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.
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 England Saxons on a short-term basis.
Northampton's uncapped centre Luther Burrell, 26, 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 the octet 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 Rob Webber and Richard Wigglesworth will give us some depth to our training."
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), Wood (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).