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Sam Underhill is cut by England as Jones reduces his squad to 26

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Eddie Jones has trimmed his England squad to face Ireland next Saturday in the Guinness Six Nations to 26 players, excluding the likes of recalled trio Sam Underhill, Nic Dolly and Alex Mitchell but keeping on board Joe Launchbury who this week has got the jump on the now excluded Nick Isiekwe. 

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It was Sunday evening – after the completion of the final fixture in round 19 of the Gallagher Premiership – when Jones named his top-of-the-week training squad of 36 which included recalls for the first time since November for Underhill, Dolly and Mitchell.

That announcement came with a covid warning that there was a doubt over the availability of Alex Dombrandt. He tested positive for the virus last Friday while part of the 25-man training week squad in Bristol and can only rejoin the squad later this week. 

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Then came the Monday evening withdrawal of Louis Lynagh, Dombrandt’s Harlequins teammate, after a positive lunchtime lateral flow test was followed by a PCR positive later in the day.  

This left Jones preparing with 35 players but that number has now been cut to 26 on Tuesday evening. Dolly, Isiekwe, Bevan Rodd and Underhill are the four forwards omitted while in the backs, Orlando Bailey, George Furbank, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Mitchell and Luke Northmore are the five who have not made the cut. 

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Eight of those who have been released – including Isiekwe, who started twice and had a third run off the bench in the three England games in February – will be available for their clubs in this weekend’s Premiership games but the RFU have added that the uncapped Bailey will “stay in camp to train with the squad for the rest of the week”.

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ENGLAND SQUAD (26 vs Ireland, Saturday)
FORWARDS (16)
Alfie Barbeary (Wasps, uncapped)
Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons, 5 caps)
Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 1 cap)
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 39 caps)
Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 7 caps)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 29 caps)
Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 34 caps)
Jamie George (Saracens, 64 caps)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 54 caps)
Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 69 caps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 91 caps)
Joe Marler (Harlequins, 77 caps)
Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 12 caps)
Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 50 caps)
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 18 caps) 

BACKS (10)
Elliot Daly (Saracens, 55 caps)
George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 79 caps)
Max Malins (Saracens, 13 caps)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 10 caps)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 37 caps)
Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 4 caps)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 46 caps)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 8 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 8 caps)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 115 caps)

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