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England squad for Wales match

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Harlequins No 8 Nick Easter is among 25 players recalled by Stuart Lancaster for the RBS 6 Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff on Friday evening.

The 47-Test 36 year-old, who started the last time England won at the Millennium Stadium in 2011, is back after a three-and-a-half-year international hiatus, stretching back to the Rugby World Cup quarter final defeat to France the same year.

While Lancaster’s group is shorn of a number of key players, including starters from last season’s 29-18 victory over Wales David Wilson, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Ben Morgan and Owen Farrell, the England Head Coach can call on a returning quartet of British and Irish Lions.

Leicester Tigers trio Dan Cole, Tom Croft and Tom Youngs make welcome returns to the international fold while Saracens loose-head prop Mako Vunipola is also back to join brother Billy after recovering from a dislocated knee cap.

Sale Sharks’ in-form fly half Danny Cipriani is also back for the first time since last summer’s tour to New Zealand, while another player in blistering club form, Bath Rugby centre Jonathan Joseph, makes a first appearance since the 2013 tour to Argentina.

Lancaster is refusing to dwell on the injury problems his side is facing ahead of a huge game in Cardiff, instead focussing on the international know-how he is able to select.

“Everyone named is fit and ready to go and we are looking forward to finalising our preparations over the next few days.

“While we have certain players unavailable through injury, it’s great to be able to welcome back guys who missed the QBE Internationals such as Dan Cole, Mako Vunipola and Tom Youngs.

“Their experience, alongside that of players like Tom Croft and Nick Easter, will be invaluable against a strong Welsh team.”

The squad will re-assemble at Pennyhill Park this evening, with the match-day 23 to face Wales announced at 9.45am on tomorrow.

England squad (25)
Forwards (14)
Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby)
Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
Nick Easter (Harlequins)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
James Haskell (Wasps)
George Kruis (Saracens)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain)
Henry Thomas (Bath Rugby)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs (11)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)
Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
George Ford (Bath Rugby)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) 

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