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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2007, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Ashton content with 'Dad's Army'
Mike Catt
Mike Catt, the oldest member of England's squad, is 36 next month
England coach Brian Ashton has shrugged off suggestions his squad is too old to win the World Cup for a second time.

Ashton has included three 35-year-olds - Mike Catt, Lawrence Dallaglio and Mark Regan - in his 30-man party, which has an average age of almost 30.

But he insists his golden oldies can emulate the side that won in 2003.

"I'm perfectly happy with 'Dad's Army' or whatever," a defiant Ashton told Radio 5live. "It was thrown at them in 2003 and 'Dad's Army' won it!"

As well as Catt, Dallaglio and Regan, there are another 11 thirtysomethings in Ashton's squad, while eight players are aged 28 or 29.

Mathew Tait (21), Tom Rees (22) and Matt Stevens (24) are the only members of the squad under 25.

England haven't so much turned back the clock, but launched a time machine to pick their World Cup squad

Chris Rattue
New Zealand Herald columnist

Yet Ashton says he is justified in going for experience.

"I've said all along that the more closely I've looked at the World Cup the more I've felt that it is a place for players with real mental strength at international level, players with big-match experience," he said.

"That's why I've gone down the road I've gone down."

Toby Flood, Dan Cipriani, Nick Abendanon and James Haskell were all axed in the final round of the selection process.

And the decision to omit Cipriani and Abendanon means England will go to the World Cup without a specialised full-back.

But Ashton insists he has made the correct decision.

Mathew Tait
Tait is just 21 but has 12 caps

"Both are massive massive talents and I'm sure they are going to be around the England team for years and years," he said.

"But I thought the World Cup has come that little bit too early."

Not everyone thinks Ashton is right, though.

According to New Zealand Herald columnist Chris Rattue, England "haven't so much turned back the clock, but launched a time machine to pick their World Cup squad".

Rattue added: "Having won the Webb Ellis Trophy with Dad's Army in 2003, they are now going to defend it with the Last of the Summer Wine. What a comedy."

Yet significantly Rattue's comments are not echoed by former World Cup winners Sean Fitzpatrick and Michael Lynagh.


Fitzpatrick, a key member of the All Blacks side that win the inaugural World Cup in 1987, told the Daily Mail newspaper: "I don't see age as a problem.

"From where England were six months ago, this is a pretty good-looking team to me."

Lynagh was equally emphatic about England's chances.

"I would advise against anyone poking fun at this England selection," he told the Daily Mirror.

"England have demonstrated in the past couple of weeks that the strength and the power of their forward play is something to fear.

"I expect this World Cup to be dominated by big, powerful forwards and England have certainly got a few of those."

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