Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill was left "surprised and disappointed" by Eddie Jones' call to leave hooker Tom Youngs out of his first England squad.
Youngs was a mainstay in the previous Stuart Lancaster regime and won three British & Irish Lions caps on their victorious 2013 tour of Australia. But he was one of nine players dropped who featured in the Rugby World Cup. As recently as December Cockerill said Youngs would be the first name on his England team sheet but he has now been relegated to fourth-choice hooker under Jones behind Dylan Hartley, Jamie George and Luke Cowan-Dickie.
The England coach is adamant the door is not closed on any player who has been omitted and Cockerill has backed the hooker to force his way back into contention.
Talking to the Leicester Mercury, Cockerill said: "I am surprised and disappointed that Tom has been left out of the squad. He has been playing exceptionally well for us this season and has led the team well as captain too.
"He is a quality player and he will keep working as hard as he can. I am sure that he will work himself back in the squad."
Sale's Danny Cipriani was another player who would have harboured hopes of getting the nod but Jones opted to go for two No.10s -- George Ford and Owen Farrell. Despite the setback, Cipriani said on his Instagram account he is focused on forcing his way back into the reckoning.
"Obviously gutted not to be involved in the initial 6 nations squad - can only get back to Sale and continue to play and improve in all areas to try and get picked," Cipriani said. "Been happy with my form but know there is more I can do - that's all that is in my control... Congrats to the new caps and especially @joshbeaumont392 [Josh Beaumont] - watching him play for the last couple seasons.
"He really deserves it! I'll get back to wearing the red rose again - that's the dream."