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Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Tuesday, 7 July 2009 14:02 UK

Wilkinson returns to England fold

Danny Cipriani and Jonny Wilkinson
Cipriani and Wilkinson lined up alongside each other for England in the 2008 Six Nations

England have recalled fly-half Jonny Wilkinson to their 32-man elite player squad for the forthcoming season, but Danny Cipriani has been left out.

Cipriani has fallen down the pecking order in the last 12 months and has been named in the second-string Saxons.

England manager Martin Johnson also left out six French-based players altogether, with just Wilkinson and Brive's Riki Flutey making the cut.

Veterans Simon Shaw, Julian White, Ben Kay and Phil Vickery are all named.

England's training camp will run from 9-14 August as part of the preparation for November matches against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.

James Haskell, Tom Palmer and Tom May, who have all moved to French clubs for the new season, miss out on a place in either the elite or Saxons squad, while Brive regulars Andy Goode and Steve Thompson have also been omitted.

I am out the England squad which is gutting on every level but another challenge which I accept and will dominate

Stade Francais forward James Haskell on his Twitter feed

"Our selections include players based in France and Rob Andrew and I have had extensive discussions with the French clubs, who have recruited English players and these have gone well," said Johnson.

Mourad Boudjellal, the president of the big-spending southern French club, maintains he will not renege on an agreement he has with Wilkinson.

"We have signed a convention with the English federation," Boudjellal told L'Equipe. "We will not oppose his presence in this training session, nor at any other. When we signed him, we knew that it could happen."

It appears Johnson's decision to leave out the likes of Haskell and Palmer is based on his view of their fitness and form, while also sending out a message to players thinking of following them to the high wages on offer in France.

Those left out will now have to wait for injury or suspension to hit players currently in the squad - as is the case with England-based players who have not been selected.

In an almost instant response on his Twitter feed, Haskell - who left Wasps to join French giants Stade Francais - said he was determined to return to the England squad.

"I am out the England squad which is gutting on every level but another challenge which I accept and will dominate," he wrote.

606: DEBATE
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"Bottom line is I have to play better and work harder. Getting into the Stade team is task number one. I love a challenge.

"Seems a shame that people made such a fuss about me going to France when in the end it was a storm in a tea cup. French players are in squad."

London Irish lock Nick Kennedy is one surprise omission from the elite squad, with experienced Leicester open-side Lewis Moody and Wasps winger Paul Sackey joining him in the Saxons set-up.

Bath prop David Wilson impressed Johnson during the summer fixtures against the Barbarians and Argentina and has been rewarded with a place in the elite squad along with giant wing Matt Banahan.

"Selection for the two squads has been very difficult because there is a greater strength in depth of players to choose from now than we had 12 months ago," said Johnson.

"The England players on the British and Irish Lions tour have played exceptionally well and this has allowed us to look at other players in the two matches against Argentina and in the Churchill Cup.

Riki Flutey
France-based Riki Flutey impressed for the British and Irish Lions

"We feel we have made considerable progress as a squad during the course of last season and we are looking forward to building on this."

World Cup winner Wilkinson, who has not played competitively since dislocating his knee playing for Newcastle in October, moved to Toulon this summer after 12 years with the Falcons.

The 30-year-old has been training with his new side and is expected to make his debut in France's Top 14 championship in August, and the potential of a fit Wilkinson has prompted Johnson to keep Cipriani in the Saxons.

The 21-year-old Wasps back started last season as England's first-choice fly-half yet finished it as a substitute for the Saxons at the Churchill Cup.

However, Johnson had words of encouragement for players selected in the Saxons, insisting that the door is not closed to the elite player squad.

"There is strong competition for places within both of the squads but there will also be opportunities, as there were last year for movement between the seniors and the Saxons and for players to come in from outside the 64 because of injury, retirement or suspension," he said.

"Delon Armitage and Mark Cueto are good examples of the latter and Ugo Monye and Joe Worsley have earned Lions caps after being originally selected in the Saxons."


England elite player squad:

Forwards: S Armitage (London Irish), S Borthwick (Saracens), G Chuter (Leicester), J Crane (Leicester), T Croft (Leicester), L Deacon (Leicester), N Easter (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton), B Kay (Leicester), L Mears (Bath), T Payne (Wasps), T Rees (Wasps), S Shaw (Wasps), A Sheridan (Sale), P Vickery (Wasps), J White (Leicester), D Wilson (Bath), J Worsley (Wasps).

Backs: D Armitage (London Irish), M Banahan (Bath), D Care (Harlequins), M Cueto (Sale), H Ellis (Leicester), T Flood (Leicester), R Flutey (Brive), D Hipkiss (Leicester), P Hodgson (London Irish), U Monye (Harlequins), O Morgan (Gloucester), M Tait (Sale), M Tindall (Gloucester), J Wilkinson (Toulon).

England Saxons squad:

Forwards: R Blaze (Leicester), D Cole (Leicester), A Corbisiero (London Irish), N Kennedy (London Irish), C Lawes (Northampton), M Mullan(Worcester), T Mercey (Saracens), L Moody (Leicester), L Narraway (Gloucester), D Paice (London Irish), C Robshaw (Harlequins), W Skinner (Harlequins), G Skivington (Wasps), D Ward-Smith (Wasps), R Webber (Wasps), N Wood (Gloucester), B Woods (Leicester).

Backs: N Abendanon (Bath), B Barritt (Saracens), D Cipriani (Wasps), B Foden (Northampton), S Geraghty (Northampton), T Ojo (London Irish), S Myler, (Northampton), P Sackey (Wasps), J Simpson (Wasps), D Strettle (Harlequins), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), S Vesty (Leicester), D Waldouck (Wasps), R Wigglesworth (Sale), M Young (Newcastle).



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see also
Morgan relieved by EPS selection
07 Jul 09 |  English
Wilkinson agrees to join Toulon
19 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Cipriani defends form after axe
21 May 09 |  English
Johnson defends Cipriani omission
19 May 09 |  English
Cipriani resigned to England snub
17 May 09 |  Rugby Union
England warn France-bound stars
30 Apr 09 |  English
England talent drain worries RFU
19 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Trio quit Wasps to play in France
17 Feb 09 |  London Wasps


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