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Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Trio released from England squad

Mathew Tait
England want Tait to get match practice back with Sale

England have released London Irish duo Delon Armitage and Nick Kennedy and Sale's Mathew Tait from their training camp to play for their clubs this week.

The trio will return from Portugal to get game-time, for the Exiles against Gloucester in the case of Armitage and Kennedy, and Tait against Worcester.

Apart from Bath's Michael Lipman, who was concussed at the weekend, all the available players trained on Monday.

Wasps' Tom Rees (knee ligament) and Tom Palmer (shoulder) are continuing rehab.

Meanwhile, Ben Foden has underlined his ambition to play scrum-half for England.

The uncapped Northampton back, 23, left Sale because they could not guarantee him a game in the number shirt.

Martin Johnson said it was a bonus for me being able to play in both positions

Ben Foden
This season he has started nine games at scrum-half for Saints, and come off the bench five more times in the same position.

He has also started four, and come on as a replacement once, at full-back, where his form in two successive games against Bristol and Leicester earlier this month propelled him into the England squad.

That versatility is likely to yield a place on the bench for the Six Nations opener against Italy at Twickenham a week on Saturday.

"For me, nine is my main focus, and I would prefer to be seen as a nine/15, rather than a 15/nine," said Foden, from England's base in the Algarve.

"Northampton have given me the opportunity to play nine, and most of my appearances this season have been as a nine - I've only had the occasional run-out at 15.

"I spoke to Martin Johnson when he first announced he was going to call me up to the squad, and he said it was a bonus for me being able to play in both positions.

"If they are looking to play me on the bench, or if I start at 15 or nine, I can always cover the other position," he added.

"They see it as a bonus really, so I am happy to play that role at the moment."

Foden is competing with Danny Care, who started all four autumn Tests, and Harry Ellis, who has just served a six-week suspension, at scrum-half, while Olly Morgan, Delon Armitage and Mathew Tait are competing for the full-back role.

"There is a lot of competition out there, so I wasn't too sure if I would make the squad or not," he added.

"When I got the phone call, obviously I was very excited. I don't think it sunk in until I was on the flight out to Portugal, and then a few nerves and jitters came in.

"The training has been quite difficult. I've been learning a lot of phase plays and new calls, and I've really been enjoying it."

Revised England elite player squad (29):
Forwards: Tim Payne (Wasps), Andrew Sheridan (Sale), Phil Vickery (Wasps), Julian White (Leicester), George Chuter (Leicester), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Lee Mears (Bath), Steve Borthwick (Saracens), Tom Palmer (Wasps), Simon Shaw (Wasps), Steffon Armitage (London Irish), Tom Croft (Leicester), James Haskell (Wasps), Tom Rees (Wasps), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Luke Narraway (Gloucester).

* Also training with the senior squad: Ben Kay (Leicester), Michael Lipman (Bath), Joe Worsley (Wasps).

Backs: Olly Morgan (Gloucester), 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).

* Also training with senior squad: Matt Banahan (Bath).

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see also
Armitage replaces injured Moody
26 Jan 09 |  English
Injured Moody out of Six Nations
23 Jan 09 |  English
Sibling rivalry spurs Armitage on
21 Jan 09 |  London Irish
Armitage tips brother for England
15 Jan 09 |  London Irish
Rees Six Nations blow for England
06 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union
Foden & Morgan get England calls
14 Jan 09 |  English

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