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Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Foden & Morgan get England calls

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Martin Johnson explains the changes to England's squad

England manager Martin Johnson has called the uncapped Northampton full-back or scrum-half Ben Foden into his elite squad for the 2009 Six Nations.

Gloucester full-back Olly Morgan is also included, while the experienced Mike Tindall and Mark Cueto return.

Fit-again Lewis Moody is also back while Steve Borthwick remains captain.

Olly Barkley, Jordan Crane, Michael Lipman and the injured James Simpson-Daniel, Dan Hipkiss and Peter Richards, are among those that drop out.

They are all included in the second-string Saxons squad, which also features veteran Leicester tight-head prop Julian White, and Northampton fly-half Stephen Myler, a convert from rugby league.

Lock Tom Palmer, who will miss the entire Six Nations with a shoulder injury, and flanker Tom Rees (knee), out for at least three games, are both included, but replacements will be summoned as cover.

Northampton's Ben Foden and Gloucester's Olly Morgan
Foden (left) is the only uncapped player; Morgan (right) has two caps

The versatile Foden, 23, who has switched between full-back and scrum-half in his career with Sale and now Saints, replaces Richards in the elite 32-man party.

"Ben is a very talented and instinctive player, and fantastic athlete," Johnson told BBC Sport.

"We have picked him in one of the nine (scrum-half) positions, but knowing he can fill one of those utility roles, come off the bench into the back three, or start as a nine.

"He is a very exciting player and it is great to have him in the squad."

Morgan won two caps in the 2007 Six Nations before suffering a series of shoulder injuries but has returned to fitness this season and has been the form full-back in the country of late.

Cueto has not played for England since the 2007 World Cup final but is a proven finisher with 13 tries in 24 Tests.

The Sale wing has scored four in his last three club games, and replaces Gloucester centre Barkley in the squad.

"Mark had real fitness and injury worries for a long time, but he has got over them and is playing well," Johnson added.

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"It is good to see him enjoying himself and scoring tries, and it is the same with Mike Tindall. He is in good form as well. The fact they are very experienced is also a big plus for us."

World Cup winner Tindall, who was recently banned for three years for drink-driving, replaces Hipkiss, who has been sidelined with a hamstring problem.

Delon Armitage, Ugo Monye and Nick Easter, who all featured in the autumn Tests as cover for injured players, are also now officially part of the elite player squad (EPS).

Armitage replaces Josh Lewsey, who retired from international rugby in December, Monye takes over from the injury-prone Simpson-Daniel while the experienced Easter gets the nod over Crane.

Moody was named in the original EPS squad last July but missed the autumn internationals with an ankle injury that he sustained in the opening match of last year's Six Nations.

Tindall happy to return

Bath flanker Lipman, who was called into the squad and played against the All Blacks, drops out, but may be summoned again in Rees's absence.

Johnson also confirmed that Borthwick, criticised after the heavy autumn defeats by Australia (28-14), South Africa (42-6) and New Zealand (32-6) will continue as captain.

"He has done a great job in very difficult circumstances," Johnson added. "It is easy to get all the plaudits as a captain when you are winning and have an experienced team, and Steve had neither."

England kick off their Six Nations campaign against Italy at Twickenham on 7 February, and the squad will head to Portugal on 25 January for a week's training as part of their preparations.

The Saxons have two fixtures lined up during the Six Nations period, against Portugal on 30 January and Ireland A on 6 February.

White, who has not been involved with England since making himself unavailable for the 2007 World Cup, replaces injured Bristol prop Jason Hobson in the second-string party.

Worcester's promising young prop Matt Mullan, the in-form Harlequins duo of centre Jordan Turner-Hall and flanker Chris Robshaw, and Wasps hooker Rob Webber, are also included.


Revised England elite player squad (32):

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

Backs: Delon Armitage (London Irish), Olly Morgan (Gloucester), Mathew Tait (Sale), Mark Cueto (Sale), Paul Sackey (Wasps), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Jamie Noon (Newcastle), Mike Tindall (Gloucester), Riki Flutey (Wasps), Shane Geraghty (London Irish), Danny Cipriani (Wasps), Toby Flood (Leicester), Danny Care (Harlequins), Harry Ellis (Leicester), Ben Foden (Northampton).

Revised England Saxons squad (32):

Forwards: Matt Mullan (Worcester), Nick Wood (Gloucester), Julian White (Leicester), David Wilson (Newcastle), David Paice (London Irish), Joe Ward (Wasps), Rob Webber (Wasps), Richard Blaze (Leicester), Louis Deacon (Leicester), Ben Kay (Leicester), George Skivington (Wasps), Steffon Armitage (London Irish), Jordan Crane (Leicester), Tom Guest (Harlequins), Michael Lipman (Bath), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Joe Worsley (Wasps).

Backs: Nick Abendanon (Bath), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Matt Banahan (Bath), Topsy Ojo (London Irish), James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), David Strettle (Harlequins), Olly Barkley (Gloucester), Dan Hipkiss (Leicester), Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins), Dominic Waldouck (Wasps), Ryan Lamb (Gloucester), Stephen Myler (Northampton), Paul Hodgson (London Irish), Peter Richards (London Irish), Richard Wigglesworth (Sale).



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see also
Morgan may be fit to face Blues
13 Jan 09 |  Gloucester
Geraghty set for England - Booth
12 Jan 09 |  London Irish
England rugby star's driving ban
08 Jan 09 |  England
Rees Six Nations blow for England
06 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union
Ellis banned over Carter tackle
19 Dec 08 |  Leicester
Lewsey retires from England duty
10 Dec 08 |  English
England 6-32 New Zealand
29 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
England 6-42 South Africa
22 Nov 08 |  English
England 14-28 Australia
15 Nov 08 |  English
England 39-13 Pacific Islanders
08 Nov 08 |  English
Abendanon to miss England Tests
29 Oct 08 |  English
Simpson-Daniel out of Test plans
23 Oct 08 |  Gloucester
Squad needed more experience - Andrew
14 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union
Johnson named as England supremo
16 Apr 08 |  English


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