England’s interim head coach Stuart Lancaster will name at least eight uncapped players in his 22-man squad to face Scotland in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup showdown.
Lancaster is due to finalise his selection on Thursday morning but revealed part of his hand tonight when he cut the training squad from 32 to 24.
Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson and Bath hooker Lee Mears were among eight players released for club duty this weekend, along with Northampton flanker Calum Clark.
Lancaster will now choose between Northampton’s Phil Dowson and Scarlets rookie Ben Morgan for the starting number eight role, with the other to join an inexperienced bench.
Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson has leapfrogged Simpson to make the matchday squad and Wasps’ Rob Webber could make his debut as a replacement after being confirmed as the second hooker.
Leicester lock Geoff Parling is due to make an England Test squad for the first time after being retained as one of three second rows, along with Tom Palmer and Mouritz Botha.
The uncapped Saracens pair of Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt are set to start in the centres against Scotland, with Harlequins’ Jordan Turner-Hall a likely inclusion on the bench.
Lancaster has left his options open on the bench with props both Matt Stevens and the uncapped Joe Marler both retained.
If England opt for a four-three split between forwards and backs, Marler is the likely player to miss out along with one back three player – David Strettle, Charlie Sharples or Mike Brown.
Bath trio David Wilson, Dave Attwood and Matt Banahan were all released tonight, along with Saracens’ Alex Goode and Leicester’s Thomas Waldrom.
England’s 24-man squad from which Lancaster will select his matchday squad to pay Scotland:
Forwards – M Botha (Saracens), A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), P Dowson (Northampton Saints), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), J Marler (Harlequins), B Morgan (Scarlets), T Palmer (Stade Francais), G Parling (Leicester Tigers), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), M Stevens (Saracens), R Webber (London Wasps).
Backs – C Ashton (Northampton Saints), B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins), L Dickson (Northampton Saints), O Farrell (Saracens), B Foden (Northampton Saints), C Hodgson (Saracens), C Sharples (Gloucester Rugby), D Strettle (Saracens), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
Released players: D Attwood (Bath Rugby), M Banahan (Bath Rugby), C Clark (Northampton Saints), A Goode (Saracens), L Mears (Bath Rugby), J Simpson (London Wasps), T Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), D Wilson (Bath Rugby).