Saracens fly-half Alex Lozowski says he won't abandon England and switch to Italy if he misses out on Eddie Jones's 45-man squad for the November Tests.
Lozowski is dually qualified for both England and Italy but said he wouldn't automatically set his sights on Italy should Jones not pick him. Both countries rate the 23-year-old highly with Jones praising him publicly while Italy coach Conor O'Shea has also been in contact.
Lozowski's chances of inclusion in the England squad has been boosted by him starting all of Saracens matches so far this season in place of the injured Owen Farrell.
"It was a bit of surprise to hear Eddie’s comments,’ Lozowski told Sportsmail. "I’ve lived in England my whole life and playing for England would be the ultimate — it’s what I dreamed of.
"I don’t want to slam the Italy door shut but, at this stage, I don’t want to rule myself out for England. I’m under no illusions because it’s clear England have a great bunch of young fly-halves. But there’s also the agreement I made with Saracens; that I would cover during the international periods. If I tell them now that I want to go and play for Italy, that leaves the club in the lurch."
Saracens could be forced to bring in an additional number 10 if Lozowski, who played football for Chelsea’s academy before switching to rugby, commits to a Test career.
O’Shea told Sportsmail that he will not put pressure on Lozowski to make a decision but revealed that he almost signed the youngster when he was coaching Harlequins.
"Alex is a player I’ve admired for a long time," said O’Shea. "I’ve known him for around three years and I’ve known his dad [Rob, who player for England] for even longer.
"I spoke to him about coming to Harlequins a while ago and I spoke to him before our summer tour. I’m well aware of who he is. We’ll talk again when he wants to make a decision. We’ve got a fantastic group of players in Italy. In terms of 10s, Carlo Canna and Tommy Allen are fantastic options for us. In terms of Alex, I’ll leave him to focus on Saracens."