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Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

England pick prop Dan Cole & recall centre Riki Flutey

RBS SIX NATIONS - ITALY v ENGLAND
Venue: Stadio Flaminio, Rome Date: Sunday, 14 February Kick-off: 1430 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC HD channel, Red Button and online; Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; Live text commentary and score updates on BBC Sport website and mobile phones

Dan Cole (left) packs down in training with hooker Dylan Hartley
Cole (left) won his first cap for England as a replacement against Wales

Leicester prop Dan Cole will make his first Test start as one of two changes to the England side for Sunday's Six Nations game against Italy in Rome.

Cole will take over at tight-head from Bath's David Wilson, while the other change to the starting line-up sees Riki Flutey return at inside centre.

Cole, 22, won his first cap from the bench in last Saturday's 30-17 win over Wales at Twickenham.

Flutey takes over from Toby Flood after recovering from a thigh injury.

Flood is likely to be on the bench when manager Martin Johnson confirms his replacements on Friday, pending the fitness of several players suffering with illness.

England centre Riki Flutey (right)
Flutey and Tait (left) will team up in England''s midfield

Captain Steve Borthwick has missed training for the last two days and been isolated from the rest of the squad, while his second-row partner Simon Shaw was also ill overnight.

Both are expected to be fit to start in Rome, although Northampton lock Courtney Lawes - originally due to return to his club - will stay with the squad, along with Worcester prop Matt Mullan and Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw.

Lewis Moody was another who did not take a full part in training on Wednesday, although Johnson quipped that the flanker was in a non-contact bib for everyone else's safety.

Tight-head Wilson picked up a shoulder knock against Wales, limiting his participation in training this week.

Johnson calls on England to increase intensity

That has given the 6ft 3in, 19 stone Cole, who played four matches for the second-string Saxons last season but has started only 21 senior club games, an opportunity to cement his status as a Test prop-in-waiting.

"It is the perfect opportunity to bring Dan Cole in," said Johnson. "We are very pleased to do that.

"I thought he was impressive when he played last week and the way he has handled this week. He can do a good job for us.

"We knew there was potential in him and getting the opportunity at Leicester to play games, his development has been rapid over the last few months."

Cole spent two seasons on loan at National League One club Bedford Blues in 2006-07 and 2007-08, and was also on loan at another League One club, Nottingham, last January.

606: DEBATE
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He has started just 14 Guinness Premiership matches and two in the Heineken Cup, but emerged towards the end of last season, playing in the Premiership final.

Cole has flourished this term in the absence of injured veteran Julian White, and cemented his reputation as a Test prop-in-waiting by demolishing Wasps loose-head Tim Payne in the scrum in a Premiership match last month.

The two will now line up either side of hooker Dylan Hartley in the England front row on Sunday.

Flutey, who turned 30 on Wednesday, was named in the side to face Wales last Saturday but forced to withdraw after picking up a knock in training.

The New Zealand-born centre will win his 10th cap after missing the autumn series through injury.


England team: Delon Armitage (London Irish); Mark Cueto (Sale), Mathew Tait (Sale), Riki Flutey (Brive), Ugo Monye (Harlequins); Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon), Danny Care (Harlequins); Tim Payne (Wasps), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Dan Cole (Leicester), Simon Shaw (Wasps), Steve Borthwick (Saracens, captain), James Haskell (Stade Francais), Lewis Moody (Leicester), Nick Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: TBC.



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see also
Cole delighted by England start
10 Feb 10 |  English
Italy recall Bortolami and Masi
12 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Win proof of progress - Wilkinson
07 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Johnson praises England execution
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
England 30-17 Wales
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 29-11 Italy
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
England v Wales match stats
31 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
England v Wales photos
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
England suffer Flutey injury blow
05 Feb 10 |  English
Johnson labels squad his 'best'
27 Jan 10 |  English


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