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Page last updated at 14:31 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 15:31 UK

Cipriani returns to England squad

Danny Cipriani
Cipriani has just returned to the Wasps side after an ankle injury

Wasps fly-half has Danny Cipriani has been promoted to England's 32-man elite squad for the autumn internationals to replace the injured Jonny Wilkinson.

The 20-year-old had been left out of the original squad as he had not been expected to recover in time from the fractured dislocation of his ankle.

But he returned on 1 October, 24 hours after Wilkinson dislocated a knee cap.

Flanker Michael Lipman and full-back Nick Abendanon replace Lewis Moody and Tom Varndell in the squad.

Cipriani will compete with Leicester's Toby Flood for the fly-half shirt while Abendanon, who has been in eye-catching form for Bath, will provide extra competiton at full-back.

"Since my injury in May this has always been my target to get back and ready for," said Cipriani.

I'm disappointed for Tom Varndell but he has not been selected by Leicester recently

England manager Martin Johnson
"I didn't really voice it - I had talked about it with my physios - but this was my target."

He added: "I am so excited about meeting up with the England guys on Sunday and being part of the 32-man squad.

"(England manager) Martin Johnson has been in regular contact with me since my injury as he does with all injured players and has kept me in the loop, which has been very comforting and allowed me a focus and target throughout my recovery.

"I know I've only played one full game for England, so there is still a lot for me to prove both at international and club level, but I'm delighted that Martin has shown such confidence in me."

Johnson said: "Cipriani has performed well since he came back and, while there was strong competition from other players, I have decided to give him the chance to compete for a place in the 22 for the Pacific Islanders match on 8 November.

"Michael Lipman was very unlucky not to make the original 32-man squad and he has been playing very well for his club this season.

"I'm disappointed for Tom Varndell but he has not been selected by Leicester recently and we will monitor his form when he starts playing regularly again and competing for a place in the squad."

Moody is recovering from surgery on his left hip and left Achilles tendon but his fellow Leicester team-mate Varndell was dropped after a poor start to the season with the Tigers.

Johnson had to request permisson to replace winger Varndell with Abendanon.

The basis of the new club-country agreement is that England can only make like-for-like changes to the original elite squad, named by Johnson on 1 July, on the grounds of injury or suspension.

However, there is a list of exceptional circumstances and "in the spirit of co-operation" Johnson's request to replace a winger with a full-back was accepted by Premier Rugby.

Abendanon, who has made only one Test start, could even find himself pushed straight into the team because Josh Lewsey and Mathew Tait, the other full-backs in the squad, have not been playing regularly in the position this season.

Cipriani, Abendanon and Lipman were all promoted from the Saxons squad, and Johnson will announce replacements to bolster the B squad after this weekend's club matches.

England follow their game against the Pacific Islands at Twickenham with Tests against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

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

Backs: Olly Barkley (Gloucester), Danny Care (Harlequins), Harry Ellis (Leicester), Toby Flood (Leicester), Riki Flutey (Wasps), Shane Geraghty (London Irish), Dan Hipkiss (Leicester), Josh Lewsey (Wasps), Jamie Noon (Newcastle), Pete Richards (London Irish), Paul Sackey (Wasps), James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), Mathew Tait (Sale), Nick Abendanon (Bath), Danny Cipriani (Wasps).

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see also
Inside Sport: Danny Cipriani
07 Oct 08 |  Inside Sport
Narraway doubt for autumn Tests
20 Oct 08 |  Gloucester
Comeback display pleases Cipriani
01 Oct 08 |  London Wasps
Wasps 23-27 Bath
01 Oct 08 |  English
Cipriani targets October return
31 Aug 08 |  English
Cipriani eager to regain fitness
08 Jul 08 |  London Wasps

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

The Times Wasps give Johnson selection headache - 30 hrs ago
The Times Blow for Johnson's first XV as Wasps stall - 32 hrs ago
The Sun LEICESTER ace Toby Flood aims to go from forgotten man to England superstar - 53 hrs ago
The Sun Toby comes Flooding back - 53 hrs ago
Independent Higgins punches hole in Dragons' defensive core - 55 hrs ago


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