LONDON: Prop Joe Marler is on course for a surprise return to international rugby after being included in England's World Cup training squad on Thursday, nine months after retiring, while flyhalf Danny Cipriani has also survived the latest cull.
Coach Eddie Jones also included four uncapped players in the 35-man group - Willi Heinz, Lewis Ludlam, Ruaridh McConnochie and Jack Singleton.Among the notable absentees are experienced Harlequins trio Danny Care, Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown as well as injury-ravaged former captain Dylan Hartley, Richard Wigglesworth and Dan Robson. Young hopefuls Alex Lozowski, Alex Dombrandt, Ollie Thorley and Ollie Devoto also missed out.
The latest squad included players from Premiership finalists Saracens and Exeter, with another three of those - George Kruis, Jack Nowell and Mako Vunipola - not included while they continue their recovery from injury.
"We have looked at the squad carefully, tried to build up a squad that has enough experience, attitude and energy to be winners and I think we have that," said Jones, who will eventually trim the group to 31 for the tournament in Japan in September and October.
With first-choice loosehead Vunipola fighting to recover from a serious hamstring injury, Marler's return is a real boost after the 29-year-old initially walked away last year having won 59 caps, saying his England duty was conflicting with his family commitments.
"I saw Joe during the Barbarians week and he indicated that he had a desire to come back," Jones said. "At his best he's one of the best props in the world. Against South Africa in the third test last year he was outstanding.
"Now it is up to him to show us what he has got."
Flyhalf Cipriani will also be delighted to have been retained as he battles for a first appearance at a World Cup. This season's double Premiership player of the year last played for England in the June 2018 tour of South Africa, where he made his first start for a decade.
After various training camps at home and abroad, England will play four World Cup warm-up games - home and away to Wales and home against Ireland and Italy - before heading to Japan.
England training squad ForwardsDan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 85 caps)Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 11 caps)Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 10 caps)Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 10 caps)Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 9 caps)Jamie George (Saracens, 37 caps)Maro Itoje (Saracens, 27 caps)Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 58 caps)Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 71 caps)Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, uncapped)Joe Marler (Harlequins, 59 caps)Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs, 8 caps)Brad Shields (Wasps, 8 caps)Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 22 caps)Jack Singleton (Saracens, uncapped)Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby 9 caps)Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 41 caps)Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 17 caps)Mark Wilson (Sale Sharks, 13 caps)BacksDanny Cipriani (Gloucester Rugby, 16 caps)Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 4 caps)Elliot Daly (Saracens, 30 caps)Owen Farrell (Saracens, 70 caps)George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 55 caps)Piers Francis (Northampton Saints, 4 caps)Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped)Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 40 caps)Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 45 caps)Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby, uncapped)Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 22 caps)Ben Spencer (Saracens, 3 caps)Ben Te’o (unattached, 18 caps)Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 32 caps)Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 33 caps)Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 85 caps)In camp for rehabilitationGeorge Kruis (Saracens, 32 caps)Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 33 caps)Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 53 caps)
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ed Osmond)