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George Ford named in England squad
ESPN Staff
February 18, 2014
George Ford will go from training with the team to a place in the matchday squad © Getty Images
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England boss Stuart Lancaster has named George Ford in the matchday squad ahead of Saturday's Test against Ireland at Twickenham.

Ford, who will discover on Thursday whether he is selected to play in the encounter with Lancaster set to name his final team, has taken the place of Brad Barritt. With Dan Cole sidelined, Davey Wilson is set to start at tight-head with Henry Thomas keeping his place on the bench.

"We feel that the time is right to include George Ford in the matchday squad. A full three weeks of training has allowed him the chance to really understand the way we are developing our game and this time has been crucial in order for him to feel confident and ready in a key decision making and leadership position," Lancaster said.

"We have successfully integrated and included many young players over the last two years and George is the next exciting talent to make his mark in the senior squad and we are a looking forward to see him develop over the next few months.

"Brad Barritt is obviously disappointed to miss out but he is still a key member of our squad and I am sure he will get further opportunities in the future. He hasn't had much game time since his injury and will benefit from some time with Saracens over the next two weeks."

Ford was named Man of the Match for his performance against Exeter on Saturday and has been banging on the international door all season. Cole's injury has shown the importance of giving others Test experience - something Phil Vickery highlighted in his column for ESPN - and Ford could make his full England debut against Ireland if he is given the opportunity to replace Owen Farrell.

When asked about Ford's chances of playing for England, while Andy Farrell did not give anything away, he was full of praise for his ability.

"Definitely George would be ready to play against Ireland," Farrell said. "He's comfortable in the environment. He knows all the plays and our systems and is comfortable with them. When you get that you can start being yourself and bring your game to the party."

England squad:

Forwards: David Attwood, Dylan Hartley, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Ben Morgan, Chris Robshaw, Henry Thomas, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, David Wilson, Tom Wood, Tom Youngs.

Backs: Mike Brown, Luther Burrell, Danny Care, Lee Dickson, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Alex Goode, Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Billy Twelvetrees.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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