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Page last updated at 12:42 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Flood lands England fly-half role

Venue: Croke Park Date: Saturday, 28 February Kick-off: 1730 GMT
Coverage: 1715-1930, BBC One, BBC Red Button, Radio 5 Live and BBC Sport website, live text commentary and score updates on BBC Sport website

England fly-half Toby Flood
Flood becomes England's fifth fly-half in 12 months

Toby Flood has been named as fly-half for England in Saturday's Six Nations game against Ireland in Dublin.

The Leicester number 10 swaps places with Andy Goode, who drops to the bench, in the only change to the starting XV beaten 23-15 by Wales.

Fit-again Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care, who missed the opening two games of the campaign, replaces Paul Hodgson among the replacements.

Prop Tim Payne and utility back Ben Foden will also travel to Dublin.

But there is no place even on the bench for Danny Cipriani, despite a recent return to form with Wasps.

Flood's return to the starting XV means England have changed their fly-half seven times in the last 10 games.

Jonny Wilkinson, Charlie Hodgson, Cipriani and and Goode have also all had run-outs in the number 10 shirt.

Wilkinson was the man in possession in last year's Six Nations before being replaced by Cipriani for the final game against Ireland.

Hodgson and Flood started the two summer Tests in New Zealand before Cipriani returned from a serious ankle injury for the autumn series.

But after starting the first three matches, he was replaced by Flood, who took over for the final Twickenham Test against the All Blacks.

With Flood nursing a calf injury before the Six Nations, Goode was recalled for the opening match against Italy.

He marked his return to the side with a try inside two minutes and a 16-point haul, and also created England's first try against Wales for Paul Sackey and landed a 40m drop-goal.

Penalty count will be crucial - Johnson

But he did not return to the action after being sin-binned early in the second half, with Flood sent on in his place, and the Leicester man now gets a chance to stake his claim from the start.

"We are comfortable with either of those guys playing, but felt it was the right time for Toby to come back in," England manager Martin Johnson told BBC Sport.

"He has played pretty well coming off the bench, so we think it is a great opportunity for him to come in and start."

Johnson insists Saturday's clash represents a "fantastic opportunity" to prove their mettle at Croke Park, where Brian Ashton's side - including seven members of the current 22 - were humiliated 43-13 two years ago.

"I think this will be the last time an England team will play at Croke Park for the forseeable future," Johnson added.

"The atmosphere will be brilliant and it will be another great occasion. We need to obviously rise to it but not get carried away with it.

"We need to be thinking, and need to be accurate. Last week we were 9-0 down very quickly. We came back but it would be nice to not be in that position after 20 minutes."

Johnson believes that too much is being made of England's disciplinary issues, but concedes his side must ensure they do no have further cause to bemoan decisions against them.

"We need to take the referee's influence out of it as much as possible by not giving them reason for us to be penalised - the lower the penalty count, the better your chance in the game," he added.

"It's an ongoing process, we're continually trying to take it out of our game, but sometimes you end up on the wrong side of three or four calls and it can make the difference."

Reserve hooker Dylan Hartley, who turned 23 on Tuesday, will travel with the party despite a calf injury. Leicester's George Chuter has been added to the squad as cover.

England team to face Ireland in Dublin on 28 February:

D Armitage; Sackey, Tindall, Flutey, Cueto; Flood, Ellis; Sheridan, Mears, Vickery; Borthwick, Kennedy; Haskell, Worsley, Easter.
Replacements: Hartley, White, Croft, Narraway, Care, Goode, Tait.

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see also
Italy 9-38 Ireland
15 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 30-21 France
07 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
England talent drain worries RFU
19 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Trio quit Wasps to play in France
17 Feb 09 |  London Wasps
Cipriani tipped for England call
15 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Wales 23-15 England
14 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations as it happened
14 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
England 36-11 Italy
07 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union

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