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Three changes to England squad, including return of Smith, Mitchell

By Liam Heagney
England's Marcus Smith and Alex Mitchell (Photo by Alex Davidson/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick has named an England squad of 36 for next Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations match versus Ireland at Twickenham that has three changes – including recalls for fit-again half-backs Marcus Smith and Alex Mitchell – from the group that gathered in York for the fallow week mini-training camp.

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Smith and Mitchell were with the squad in the north of England last week but weren’t officially part of the 36 as they were listed as additional players who were continuing their rehabilitation from respective calf and knee injuries.

Out-half Smith missed all three England matches in February after he picked up his injury in Girona on the Monday prior to the championship opener away to Italy in Rome, while Mitchell was unavailable for the February 24 loss in Scotland due to an injury sustained when training at Twickenham on the Friday after the round two win over Wales.

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Their availability for the March 9 round four clash versus title favourites Ireland will be seen as a massive boost in the wake of England’s demoralising 21-30 defeat at Scottish Gas Murrayfield.

Neither George Ford nor Danny Care convinced that afternoon and they were replaced during the second half by rookie Fin Smith and Ben Spencer, who was making his first appearance since the 2019 Rugby World Cup final.

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Aside from the recall of Smith and Mitchell, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso is also included after he was marked absent last week. The 21-year-old, who scored off the bench in Edinburgh and was name-checked post-game by Scotland boss Gregor Townsend as a major threat, was missing from the York meet-up due to an in-person medical exam at Exeter University.

Borthwick’s 36-man squads this year have always had a 20 forwards/16 backs split but that has been changed for this Ireland game as 19 forwards and 17 backs have been named for the Pennyhill Park assembly.

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Tom Pearson is the forward involved in York last week who has missed out, while the two backs omitted are Max Ojomoh and Harry Randall.

England Six Nations squad (vs Ireland)
Forwards (19):
Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Alex Coles (Northampton Saints)
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Sale Sharks)
Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins)
Theo Dan (Saracens)
Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins)
Ben Earl (Saracens)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby)
Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears)
Jamie George (Saracens)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)
Maro Itoje (Saracens)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
George Martin (Leicester Tigers)
Beno Obano (Bath Rugby)
Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs)
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby)
Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby)

Backs (17):
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Elliot Daly (Saracens)
Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints)
Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs)
George Ford (Sale Sharks)
Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints)
George Furbank (Northampton Saints)
Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby)
Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints)
Will Muir (Bath Rugby)
Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
Fin Smith (Northampton Saints)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
Ben Spencer (Bath Rugby)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers)
Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks)

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