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Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

England recall Palmer & Vickery

Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 15 November Kick-off: 1430 GMT Coverage: Live on Sky Sports. Highlights on BBC Three (Saturday, 1930 GMT) and BBC Two (Sunday, 1500 GMT). Live text commentary on BBC Sport website
Tom Palmer (left) and Phil Vickery
Palmer (left) will win his 12th cap, Vickery his 66th on Saturday

England have recalled former captain Phil Vickery and lock Tom Palmer to their starting team to face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

Vickery takes over from Matt Stevens at tight-head prop, while Palmer replaces Nick Kennedy, a try-scoring debutant in the 39-13 win over the Pacific Islands.

Kennedy is out of the 22 altogether, with the other change seeing lock Simon Shaw drafted onto the bench.

The two changes signal England's intent to take on Australia up front.

Vickery is keen to grasp the opportunity

Vickery, who will win his 66th cap, and fellow prop Andrew Sheridan destroyed the Wallabies front row when the two teams met in an autumn Test at Twickenham in 2005, and again in last year's World Cup quarter-final in Marseille.

But manager Martin Johnson warned against expecting England to automatically dominate at scrum-time again on Saturday.

"The scrummage used to be a weakness for them, but it is not any more," he said.

Phil brings a lot of leadership, which will be important. He is world-class

Martin Johnson
"They have worked very hard at it and against the All Blacks in the last Tri-Nations they had them under pressure.

"It's become the thing to talk about in these England-Australia games but we don't think we've got an advantage in the scrum going into Saturday's game.

"We need to be on the top of our game because we haven't squeezed that well for a while."

He added: "We have two quality tight-head props. Phil's very fresh and in good form and Matt is a huge impact player.

"Phil is our most experienced forward. He brings a lot of leadership, which will be important. He is a world-class player."

Johnson rates Australia highly

Vickery's Wasps team-mate Palmer, who wins his 12th cap, also provides more ballast and ball-carrying ability in the second row, where he rejoins skipper Steve Borthwick.

Palmer played alongside Borthwick in the two summer Tests in New Zealand, but lost his place to Kennedy against the Pacific Islanders.

"Tom had a good tour of New Zealand," Johnson said. "It was good to get Nick in last week. He played pretty well.

"It's tough on Nick not to be in the 22 but when you are picking your bench it's not always about your next best player but a different sort of player. We wanted what Shaw offers."

Unsurprisingly, Johnson has opted to retain the back division that impressed in his opening match in charge last Saturday, despite Mathew Tait's return to training.

Full-back Delon Armitage, who was man of the match against the Pacific Islanders, winger Ugo Monye and inside centre Riki Flutey will all win their second Test caps.

Johnson has again opted for a five-two split between forwards and backs among the replacements, with James Haskell and Michael Lipman both providing back-row cover.

Vickery and Sheridan are two of only four survivors - along with Nick Easter and Paul Sackey - from the England starting XV that stunned the Wallabies in Marseille 12 months ago.

The two teams will be playing for the Cook Cup, which Australia currently hold following their back-to-back victories over England in June 2006.

Australia have some strong runners and are direct. They get the best out of what they have got

Martin Johnson
Johnson has warned that despite a satisfactory opening win against the Islanders, "every part of our game needs to improve".

"Until you play and get exposed in a couple of areas, you don't know where you are," he added.

"This is the first experience for a number of our players. They played well last week and we now need to back it up. Consistency is a big thing for us.

"Australia have just come out of the Tri-Nations, they have played South Africa three times, New Zealand four times, so they have been rubbing shoulders with the best teams in the world.

"They will be battle-hardened and they will want to come to Twickenham to win. They have some strong runners and are direct. They get the best out of what they have got."

England team: D Armitage (London Irish); Sackey (Wasps), Noon (Newcastle), Flutey (Wasps), Monye (Harlequins); Cipriani (Wasps), Care (Harlequins); Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Mears (Bath), Vickery (Wasps), Borthwick (Saracens, capt), Palmer (Wasps), Croft (Leicester), Rees (Wasps), Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: Hartley (Northampton), Stevens (Bath), Shaw (Wasps), Haskell (Wasps), Lipman (Bath), Ellis (Leicester), Flood (Leicester).

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see also
Australia are a step up - Johnson
11 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Giteau back for revamped Aussies
11 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Pick your England XV
27 Oct 08 |  Squad Selector
Johnson passes first test
08 Nov 08 |  English
England 39-13 Pacific Islanders
08 Nov 08 |  English
England 12-10 Australia
06 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
England 26-16 Australia
12 Nov 05 |  Internationals
Rugby union on the BBC
10 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union

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