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Page last updated at 13:04 GMT, Thursday, 1 July 2010 14:04 UK

Ex-England captain Steve Borthwick out of elite squad

Steve Borthwick (left) watches an England training session with Martin Johnson
Borthwick (left) was Johnson's captain for the first 20 Tests of his tenure

England manager Martin Johnson has dropped former captain Steve Borthwick from his new elite 32-man squad.

The Saracens lock was Johnson's leader for the first 20 Tests of his tenure before a knee injury forced him to miss the Six Nations finale against France.

Uncapped Dave Attwood of Gloucester, Tom Palmer of Stade Francais, veteran Wasp Simon Shaw and Northampton's Courtney Lawes are the locks included.

Johnson called it a "very hard decision" to leave out Borthwick.

"He's done a fantastic job for England over the last couple of years and it's the most difficult call we've had to make," he said. "It is very tough on Steve but it goes to show the depth of talent we've got in that area."

Borthwick, 30, has to make do with a place in the second-string Saxons squad, along with two British and Irish Lions - wing Ugo Monye and hooker Lee Mears - and six other players demoted from the senior squad.


Flanker Steffon Armitage, lock Louis Deacon, number eight Jordan Crane, centres Mathew Tait and Dan Hipkiss and scrum-half Paul Hodgson all drop down, while Harry Ellis - who endured an injury-plagued season - misses out on both the squads.

Promoted to the elite group for the first time are Leicester prop Dan Cole and scrum-half Ben Youngs, who have already established their Test credentials, Gloucester prop Paul Doran-Jones, and the uncapped Wasps centre Dominic Waldouck and Leeds flanker Hendrie Fourie.

There is a return to the EPS squad for World Cup-winning centre Mike Tindall, who has made a successful comeback to the Test side, experienced flanker Joe Worsley and hooker George Chuter.

Harlequins wing David Strettle is also promoted at the expense of club-mate Monye, while there is no place in either squad for Bath centre Olly Barkley or veteran Wasps prop Phil Vickery, who missed the Six Nations and summer tour through injury.

Fellow prop Andrew Sheridan, centre Riki Flutey and hooker Dylan Hartley, who were also sidelined for the five-match trip down under, retain their places in the squad.

Borthwick's fall from grace represents a marked change in direction from Johnson, who had stood by his skipper in the face of widespread criticism over the past two seasons.

The fact that some experienced guys have missed out goes to show the depth we've now got

Martin Johnson

But the emergence of 21-year-old Lawes, who made his first Test start in the victory in Sydney, and 23-year-old Attwood, who started all three midweek games on tour, have hastened his demise.

The belated development of the athletic Palmer, 31, and the retention of Shaw, who will be 38 by the time next year's World Cup kicks off, means Borthwick, capped 57 times, is no longer considered one of the top four locks in the country.

"This was undoubtedly the most difficult EPS selection we've had to make in my time in the job," added Johnson, who took over in the summer of 2008.

"I think we've picked the best players and the fact that some experienced guys have missed out goes to show the depth we've now got.

"We want to build on what we've done this summer and a southern hemisphere tour that was hugely beneficial and a really positive experience for the group. We were able to give lots of opportunities to players and expose them to a high level of rugby."

Among those were Fourie, who was forced home after an injury in the first game against the Australian Barbarians, and Doran-Jones, who earned a cap as a replacement against Argentina last autumn amid an injury crisis and who impressed the coaches with his attitude on tour.

Waldouck, who also might have played more but for injury, overtakes Hipkiss and Tait in the outside centre pecking order.

Johnson will gather his squad together for a week's pre-season training camp from 8 August.

They will play four autumn Tests at Twickenham against New Zealand (6 November), Australia (13 November), Samoa (20 November) and South Africa (27 November).

England elite player squad:

Forwards (18): T Payne (Wasps), A Sheridan (Sale), D Cole (Leicester), P Doran-Jones (Gloucester), D Wilson (Bath); G Chuter (Leicester), D Hartley (Northampton), S Thompson (Leeds); D Attwood (Gloucester), C Lawes (Northampton), T Palmer (Stade Francais), S Shaw (Wasps); T Croft (Leicester), N Easter (Harlequins), H Fourie (Leeds), J Haskell (Stade Francais), L Moody (Leicester), J Worsley (Wasps).

Backs (14): D Armitage (London Irish), B Foden (Northampton); C Ashton (Northampton), M Banahan (Bath), M Cueto (Sale), D Strettle (Harlequins); R Flutey (Brive), S Hape (Bath), M Tindall (Gloucester), D Waldouck (Wasps); T Flood (Leicester), J Wilkinson (Toulon); D Care (Harlequins), B Youngs (Leicester).

England Saxons squad:

Forwards (18): D Bell (Bath), A Corbisiero (London Irish), J Golding (Newcastle), M Mullan (Worcester); L Mears (Bath), R Webber (Wasps); S Borthwick (Saracens), L Deacon (Leicester), G Parling (Leicester); S Armitage (London Irish), J Crane (Leicester), P Dowson (Northampton), L Narraway (Gloucester), T Rees (Wasps), C Robshaw (Harlequins), A Saull (Saracens), D Ward-Smith (Wasps), T Wood (Worcester).

Backs (14): N Abendanon (Bath), A Goode (Saracens); U Monye (Harlequins), J Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), A Allen (Leicester), B Barritt (Saracens), D Hipkiss (Leicester), M Tait (Sale); S Geraghty (Northampton), C Hodgson (Sale), S Myler (Northampton); P Hodgson (London Irish), J Simpson (Wasps), R Wigglesworth (Sale).

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