Promotion-chasing Saracens have massively upped the ante ahead of their latest Championship match on Sunday against Bedford, Mark McCall recalling England internationals Elliot Daly, Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola for their first competitive outing at club level in quite a considerable time. 

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Daly, Itoje and Billy Vunipola last lined out for Saracens in the final Gallagher Premiership match of last season, the October 4 draw with Bath 27 weeks ago while Mako Vunipola’s most recent appearance came in the previous week’s agonising Heineken Champions Cup semi-final loss to Racing in Paris.     

They all now come back into a Saracens team skippered by England colleague Jamie George, who made his return to club action in the recent win at Richmond. 

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The latest team selection comes at the end of a week where Owen Farrell was announced as the permanent skipper at a club looking to rebuild following its automatic demotion for repeated salary cap breaches. Farrell misses out this Sunday, though, with what was vaguely described as a “slight strain”.  

“All of the international players are ready to crack on with rugby now,” said McCall on the Saracens website. “They are back in with their teammates. It’s great to have them back and they are all keen to roll their sleeves up.

“The history of these players coming back from international windows has always been really positive. They have been amazing the attitude they have brought. They have brought a real life to the place and it has been incredibly positive.

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“It’s a time of the season which our players have always enjoyed. We have always played important games over April and May in the last few years and as it happens some of the games we are going to play are going to be as important.”

SARACENS (vs Bedford, Sunday): 15. Elliott Obatoyinbo; 14. Alex Lewington, 13, Elliot Daly, 12. Duncan Taylor, 11. Sean Maitland; 10. Manu Vunipola, 9. Aled Davies; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Jamie George (capt), 3. Vincent Koch, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Joel Kpoku, 6. Andy Christie, 7. Jackson Wray, 8. Billy Vunipola. Reps: 16. Ethan Lewis, 17. Ralph Adams-Hale, 18. Alec Clarey, 19. Callum Hunter-Hill, 20. Janco Venter, 21. Tom Whiteley, 22. Juan Pablo Socino, 23. Dom Morris.

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