Tuesday 20 March 2018

Lancaster boosted by return of Strettle

DAVID STRETTLE is pushing for a return to the England team for Saturday's Six Nations clash with Ireland at Twickenham after recovering from a sternum injury.

The Saracens wing was forced to pull out of last weekend's 24-22 victory over France on the eve of the game after failing a fitness test.

Charlie Sharples was called up to make his first Test start in Paris and England manager Stuart Lancaster must decide whether to retain the same starting line-up or bring Strettle back.

Otherwise, the England side virtually picks itself following Sunday's remarkable win in Paris which, mathematically at least, has left Lancaster's men heading into the final weekend with a chance of winning the Six Nations title.

Lancaster was due to confirm the make-up of his 22-man squad this morning and at full-back it is set to include Ben Foden, who will face Ireland four days after becoming a father.

Foden's partner, Una Healy, who is the Irish singer in pop group The Saturdays, gave birth on Tuesday to a 7lb 13oz girl named Aoife Belle.

Lancaster is finalising his selection from a squad of 24 players that includes Northampton loose forward Phil Dowson, who was knocked out during a brief appearance off the bench against France at the Stade de France.

Once again there is no place for Leicester fly-half Toby Flood, with Charlie Hodgson again set to provide the back-up to starting No10 Owen Farrell.

Wales' superior points difference of +38 leaves them with a strong grip on the title outcome.

For England to wrestle if off them, Lancaster's men must put Ireland to the sword and they need France to wreck Wales' Grand Slam party with a comprehensive victory in Cardiff.

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