George Ford replaces Toby Flood in England Six Nations squad

Six Nations Championship 2014

  • Dates: 1 February-15 March

Coverage: All matches live on BBC TV, radio and BBC Sport website

Uncapped Bath fly-half George Ford has replaced Toby Flood in England's elite squad (EPS) ahead of the Six Nations.

The dropped Flood, 28, has won 60 caps for his country but is leaving Leicester at the end of the season for an as-yet unspecified French club.

England squad analysis

"George Ford put the finishing touches to a great first half of the season with a very accomplished performance against Leicester.

"It showed he can spot an opportunity and execute, makes good decisions and plays without fear of making mistakes.

"Right now, statistically, he is the most rounded attacking 10 in the Premiership and deserves his elevation into the EPS.

"Luther Burrell, too, has earned his spot by putting in effective, tidy and impressive performances.

"And Anthony Watson isn't a surprise - we all want to see how he deals with the pressure and expectation playing for England brings, if he gets his chance."

Head coach Stuart Lancaster said: "Given the policy of not selecting players based overseas it's important we allow others to progress."

Eleven players from outside the EPS are in a 35-man Six Nations training squad.

Eight have been promoted from the second-string Saxons squad, including the uncapped quartet of Bath wing/full-back Anthony Watson, Exeter wing/full-back Jack Nowell, Northampton centre Luther Burrell and Leicester lock Ed Slater.

The other Saxons called up are Exeter flanker Tom Johnson, Gloucester wing Jonny May, Wasps prop Matt Mullan and Sale prop Henry Thomas, while the trio of Northampton fly-half Stephen Myler, Bath hooker Rob Webber and Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth will also train with the Six Nations squad.

They have been called up because Lancaster has eight elite squad players currently unavailable because of injury, including Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi and Northampton prop Alex Corbisiero.

"We've got eight injuries in the senior squad, which is quite a significant number, but it creates a great opportunity for some other players," added Lancaster.

England selection delights Ford

"Twenty months to the World Cup, 20 games to go, so we see it as the right time."

England only pick players based overseas in "exceptional circumstances" and Flood's pending move to France signals the end of his international career.

Lancaster described Flood's decision to play in the Top 14 as a "big blow".

He told BBC Sport: "To lose a player of that calibre, that experience, from our squad is disappointing.

"I had a couple of conversations with him and impressed our desire for him to stay and play his rugby at Leicester, and then be available for England.

England's injured EPS players

  • Manu Tuilagi (Leicester centre)
  • Tom Croft (Leicester flanker)
  • Marland Yarde (London Irish winger)
  • Alex Corbisierio (Northampton prop)
  • Christian Wade (Wasps wing)
  • Geoff Parling (Leicester lock)
  • David Wilson (Bath prop)
  • Ben Foden (Northampton full-back)

"But he's been great in the conversations, very mature, honest and open. We respect his opinion and wish him luck."

Ford is the only change to Lancaster's elite player squad, with Owen Farrell of Saracens and Gloucester's Freddie Burns the other fly-halves, although Burns has been earmarked to play for the Saxons against the Irish Wolfhounds and Scotland A, with Myler promoted to train with the Six Nations squad.

Lancaster said the 20-year-old Ford's display during Bath's 27-27 draw against Leicester at the weekend clinched his place in the squad.

He added: "We know a lot about him. He's been involved in the programme for a long time. I know him well and it's the right decision to bring him through.

"It's his temperament which sets him apart. He's got incredible maturity and great leadership for someone so young.

"I speak to experienced players at Bath and they can't believe he's so mature for a 20-year-old. He'll be excited and we're excited to have him."

England squads:

Elite player squad (33) until end of season including summer tour:

Forwards:

Props: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath Rugby). Hookers: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers). Locks: David Attwood (Bath Rugby), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers). Back-rows: Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints).

Backs:

Back three: Chris Ashton (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Alex Goode (Saracens), Christian Wade (London Wasps), Marland Yarde (London Irish). Centres: Brad Barritt (Saracens), Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby). Fly-halves: Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath Rugby). Scrum-halves: Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

England Six Nations training squad (35):

Forwards:

Props: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Matt Mullan (London Wasps), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), Mako Vunipola (Saracens). Hookers: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Rob Webber (Bath Rugby), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers). Locks: David Attwood (Bath Rugby), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers). Back-rows: Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints).

Backs:

Back three: Chris Ashton (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby). Centres: Brad Barritt (Saracens), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby). Fly-halves: Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath Rugby), Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints). Scrum-halves: Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).