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New Zealand v England, 1st Test
England sweat on Care's fitness
Tom Hamilton in Auckland
June 5, 2014
Kyle Eastmond pulls a weights sled during the England training session © Getty Images
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England are sweating on the fitness of Danny Care ahead of Saturday's first Test against New Zealand in Auckland.

Care jarred his shoulder in training on Monday and although he has been named at scrum-half, Ben Youngs is waiting in the wings with Northampton's Lee Dickson on standby if Care fails a fitness test in Friday's captain's run. It is a situation Stuart Lancaster admits is "not ideal, but needs must".

The news came as Lancaster confirmed the team for Saturday's match with Billy Twelvetrees missing as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury.

England are without a host of experienced players for Saturday's Test and the matchday XV boasts just 299 caps.

In the front-row, hooker Rob Webber has won his personal fitness battle and starts alongside Joe Marler and David Wilson. Geoff Parling and Joe Launchbury pack down in the second-row with James Haskell in line to play his first Test since the 2013 Six Nations after being named at blindside. Captain Chris Robshaw and Ben Morgan complete the pack.

Lineout and self-belief key for England

  • "If England are to win on Saturday, they will need to get their set piece perfect. While most of the team picked itself for the first Test, largely because of the meagre pool from which Lancaster could choose his team from due to the well-publicised logistical difficulties behind this game, the second-row and blindside were the two positions where Lancaster actually had options rather than merely giving those who had the right number on their back the nod for the job.
  • "For Joe Launchbury and Geoff Parling, it is clear their role in the lineout will be essential in giving England a foothold in what will be an uphill battle. Rob Webber's successful return from a knee injury sustained toward the end of the season will also come as a welcome boost for Lancaster and his coaching staff."
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Freddie Burns lines up at fly-half alongside Care in the half-backs with Kyle Eastmond starting at inside centre with Manu Tuilagi at No.13. The back three sees Jonny May on the left wing with Marland Yarde and Mike Brown completing the line-up.

On the bench Joe Gray and Chris Pennell could make their Test debuts with Danny Cipriani also named.

"I think it's a strong side," Lancaster said "When I look at the pack James Haskell hasn't had an opportunity for a while, Geoff Parling is coming back into the side, Rob Webber has been a good player for us.

"I guess the key decisions centred around fly-half. Freddie Burns had done enough to warrant a start. Danny Cipriani has made some good progress with us and I'm more than happy to accommodate him on the bench.

"And the minute we lost Anthony Watson our back three replacement became Chris Pennell, which is a fitting reward for a great season. He's also done really well in camp. The rest of the guys - Manu, Marland, Jonny May were easy picks."

England:

Mike Brown (Harlequins), Marland Yarde (Harlequins), Manu Tuilagi, (Leicester Tigers), Kyle Eastmond (Bath), Jonny May (Gloucester), Freddie Burns (Leicester Tigers), Danny Care (Harlequins); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Rob Webber (Bath), David Wilson (Bath), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), James Haskell (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (captain, Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester)

Replacements: Joe Gray (Harlequins), Matt Mullan (London Wasps), Henry Thomas (Bath), Dave Attwood (Bath), Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks), Chris Pennell (Worcester Warriors)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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