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Johnson set to name revised England squad
Scrum.com
January 12, 2009

England manager Martin Johnson will name his revised elite squads on Wednesday ahead of his side's assault on the 2009 Six Nations crown.

Johnson can make five form-based changes to the original squads named last July under the terms of the England Elite Player Squad (EPS) agreement but injuries, suspensions and retirements have given the England boss further leeway as he looks to conjure a Championship-winning formula.

The much-heralded agreement also allows for changes if a player has not featured for his club, or has been playing for his club in a position other than the one(s) nominated by England and as a result there are set to be several changes announced by Johnson.

Wasps flanker Tom Rees has been ruled out action for two months after suffering a knee injury earlier this month while his club mate Tom Palmer has been sidelined for three months after the lock underwent surgery on a shoulder injury.

Elsewhere, Leicester scrum-half Harry Ellis is currently serving a six-week ban after being found guilty for a dangerous tackle on Perpignan's Dan Carter during their Heineken Cup clash in December. The No.9 is sidelined until January 25 and as a result will not see any action before the start of the Six Nations leaving the door open for Johnson to summon an active replacement.

Meanwhile, Leicester centre Dan Hipkiss is currently battling a hamstring injury that is expected to keep him out of action for month while Wasps' Josh Lewsey announced his retirement from international rugby last month to free up another place in the 32-man elite squad.

Johnson was forced into changes to the squads ahead of England's ultimately disappointing autumn series last year but these changes will be discounted ahead of Wednesday's announcement.

Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani was promoted from the Saxons squad to replace the injured Jonny Wilkinson and is set to retain his place with his rival still sidelined through injury. Flanker Michael Lipman and fullback Nick Abendanon were also drafted in replacing Lewis Moody and Tom Varndell. The London Irish duo of fullback Delon Armitage and scrum-half Paul Hodgson and Harlequins' winger Ugo Monye and No.8 Nick Easter also joined the elite squad as cover for injured players.

Several names have been linked with either a call up to the elite squad or a return to its ranks including experienced heads like centre Mike Tindall and wing Mark Cueto while in-form players such as fullback/scrum-half Ben Foden and fullback Olly Morgan have also been backed for selection. However injury clouds hover over the Gloucester duo of Tindall and Morgan with a fractured finger set to rule the latter out of contention.

England begin their Six Nations campaign against Italy at Twickenham (February 7), before travelling to Wales (February 14) and Ireland (February 28). They then play host to France (March 15) and Scotland (March 21).

2008-09 Elite Player Squads (named July 1, 2008)

England

Forwards:
Steve Borthwick (Saracens), George Chuter (Leicester Tigers), Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (London Wasps), Nick Kennedy (London Irish), Lee Mears (Bath Rugby), Lewis Moody (Leicester Tigers), Luke Narraway (Gloucester Rugby), Tom Palmer (London Wasps), Tim Payne (London Wasps), Tom Rees (London Wasps), Simon Shaw (London Wasps), Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Matt Stevens (Bath Rugby), Phil Vickery (London Wasps)

Backs:
Olly Barkley (Gloucester Rugby), Danny Care (Harlequins), Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Riki Flutey (London Wasps), Shane Geraghty (London Irish), Dan Hipkiss (Leicester Tigers), Josh Lewsey (London Wasps), Jamie Noon (Newcastle Falcons), Peter Richards (London Irish), Paul Sackey (London Wasps), James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester Rugby), Mathew Tait (Sale Sharks), Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers), Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle Falcons)

England Saxons

Forwards:
Steffon Armitage (London Irish), Richard Blaze (Leicester Tigers), Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Jack Forster (Gloucester Rugby), Tom Guest (Harlequins), Jason Hobson (Bristol Rugby), Chris Jones (Sale Sharks), Ben Kay (Leicester Tigers), Michael Lipman (Bath Rugby), David Paice (London Irish), George Skivington (London Wasps), Andy Titterrell (Gloucester Rugby), Joe Ward (London Wasps), David Wilson (Newcastle Falcons), Nick Wood (Gloucester Rugby), Joe Worsley (London Wasps)

Backs:
Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby), Anthony Allen (Gloucester Rugby), Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Cipriani (London Wasps), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Andy Goode (Leicester Tigers), Paul Hodgson (London Irish), Ryan Lamb (Gloucester Rugby), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Topsy Ojo (London Irish), David Strettle (Harlequins), Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby), Dominic Waldouck (London Wasps), Richard Wigglesworth (Sale Sharks)

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