England drop Ashton

Date published: January 29 2014

England have named a 26-man squad to travel to Paris for their Six Nations opener against France on Saturday.

England have named a 26-man squad to travel to Paris for their Six Nations opener against France on Saturday.

Uncapped Exeter wing Jack Nowell is set to be given his debut on the right wing as Chris Ashton makes way.

British and Irish Lions scrum-half Ben Youngs has also been axed with Danny Care expected to start.

With Gloucester flyer Jonny May, who has made only one Test appearance, earmarked for the left wing and centre Luther Burrell also set to launch his international career, head coach Stuart Lancaster will field an untested backline in the French capital.

The 23 to play at the Stade de France will be named on Thursday, with three additional players flying with the team that afternoon as cover.

Uncapped backs George Ford and Anthony Watson are included in the squad.

“We are excited about the players we are taking to Paris and what a great place to open our RBS 6 Nations campaign against a French team who will be massively motivated, especially after the last two games between us,” said Lancaster.

“Competition for places is intense and we have tough selection choices to make across the team. The young players have really impressed and based on their club form and what they have done in training with us they deserve their opportunity.

“Competition at scrum-half has been particularly tight and Danny Care's form leading into the Six Nations has been excellent and he merits his inclusion. Ben Youngs misses out this time but he is a quality player and I am sure he will respond in the same way Danny did at the start of the year.

“We have been pleased with the form of Chris Ashton recently. However, Jack Nowell has made great progress on the right wing and has also delivered in big games for Exeter Chiefs and we feel it is the right time to look at another option in that position. Chris remains an important member of the squad and I am sure he will be working hard to regain that position during the course of the Six Nations.”

Kyle Eastmond (Bath) will join the England Saxons squad and be included in the 23 to face Scotland A in Scoutstoun, Glasgow on Friday. The Saxons team will be named on Wednesday.

“Kyle has been superb in training and, in the same way that Anthony Watson played for the Saxons last week, we feel that he will benefit from more senior international experience,” added Lancaster.

England squad:

Forwards (14): David Attwood, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Ben Morgan, Matt Mullan, Chris Robshaw, Henry Thomas, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Tom Wood, Tom Youngs.

Backs (12): Brad Barritt, Mike Brown, Luther Burrell, Danny Care, Lee Dickson, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Alex Goode, Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Billy Twelvetrees, Anthony Watson.