England coach Brian Ashton has included former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio in a 47-man training squad for the World Cup.
Dallaglio's leadership could benefit England's World Cup defence
He is one of 24 forwards Ashton will run the rule over, but suspended Bath lock Danny Grewcock misses out.
The uncapped Danny Cipriani and Dan Hipkiss are among 23 backs.
Charlie Hodgson, Mike Tindall, Dan Ward-Smith and Andrew Sheridan have all recovered sufficiently from long-term injuries to make the initial cut.
Another injury victim, Olly Morgan, is in the 47, while Jason Robinson is included despite needing minor surgery on his knee this week.
Wasps captain Dallaglio, 34, last played for England as a replacement in the 2006 Six Nations and is picked for the first time since Ashton - who admitted he knows only 'three or four' of his starting XV - took over as head coach.
"In the latter half of the season he played some very good rugby again at the highest level you can compete at underneath international level in this country," Ashton told BBC Radio Five Live.
"It's purely on that basis that he's back in the reckoning.
"I know he brings other things to the table in terms of leadership, motivation skills as well, but believe me, had he not been able to demonstrate that he is playing at that level again he wouldn't be in the squad."
Ashton also revealed that Grewcock, whose ban for punching will see him miss England's first two games in France, could still come into contention.
"He's serving a ban until after the second group game, against South Africa," said Ashton.
"I believe he's going to appeal against the ban and I said to him 'when that appeal takes place, depending on the outcome, we'll talk again'."
Dallaglio's Wasps team-mates Simon Shaw and Fraser Waters have been rewarded for their impressive form as Wasps claimed the Heineken Cup.
Former Great Britain rugby league captain Andrew Farrell is given the chance to press his claims after illness wiped out his opportunity to impress on the recent tour of South Africa.
Another contender for the inside centre berth, Mike Catt, returns after injury ruled him out of the tour.
Veteran forwards Mark Regan and Kevin Yates remain in contention for France after offering stout resistance as England were heavily beaten in the two Tests in South Africa.
They are among only 17 of the 33 players on the tour to make the training squad, with James Simpson-Daniel and Iain Balshaw among the tourists who miss out.
Ashton said it was an "incredibly difficult decision" to axe them, but said they were just too injury prone.
"I don't like saying, but it's the 'durability factor' about these guys," said Ashton, who has to name his final 30-man squad on 14 August.
England kick off their defence of the World Cup against the USA on 8 September in Lens, with South Africa next up on 14 September in Paris.
They have three warm-up games, against Wales on 4 August and France on 11 and 18 August.
England's 47-man World Cup training squad:
Forwards: Steve Borthwick (Bath), George Chuter (Leicester), Martin Corry (Leicester), Lawrence Dallaglio (Wasps), Louis Deacon (Leicester), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Perry Freshwater (Perpignan), James Haskell (Wasps), Andrew Hazell (Gloucester), Ben Kay (Leicester), Magnus Lund (Sale), Lee Mears (Bath), Lewis Moody (Leicester), Tom Palmer (Wasps), Tom Rees (Wasps), Mark Regan (Bristol), Simon Shaw (Wasps), Andrew Sheridan (Sale), Matt Stevens (Bath), Phil Vickery (Wasps), Dan Ward-Smith (Bristol), Julian White (Leicester), Joe Worsley (Wasps), Kevin Yates (Saracens).
Backs: Nick Abendanon (Bath), Olly Barkley (Bath), Mike Catt (London Irish), Danny Cipriani (Wasps), Mark Cueto (Sale), Andrew Farrell (Saracens), Toby Flood (Newcastle), Shane Geraghty (London Irish), Andrew Gomarsall (Harlequins), Dan Hipkiss (Leicester), Charlie Hodgson (Sale), Josh Lewsey (Wasps), Olly Morgan (Gloucester), Jamie Noon (Newcastle), Shaun Perry (Bristol), Peter Richards (Gloucester), Jason Robinson (Sale), Paul Sackey (Wasps), David Strettle (Harlequins), Mathew Tait (Newcastle), Mike Tindall (Gloucester), Fraser Waters (Wasps), Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle).