Chris Ashton released back to Saracens as England squad unchanged for Scotland
09:31 05 February 2014
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Saracens wing Chris Ashton has received a second England snub as head coach Stuart Lancaster has given a vote of confidence to the players beaten in painful circumstances by France by selecting the same squad for Saturday’s clash with Scotland.
The Heineken Cup’s top try-scorer has been released back to Sarries for this weekend’s Premiership visit of London Irish.
Lancaster has kept faith with the 23 who were edged 26-24 in Paris on the opening day of the RBS 6 Nations Championship as the Red Rose team seek to reignite their title challenge.
Lancaster will announce his starting XV for the Calcutta Cup showdown at Murrayfield this morning, but it will almost certainly be an identical line-up.
“We were disappointed by the result against France, but very proud of many aspects of the performance,” Lancaster said.
“We want to give the same 23 the opportunity to build on that against Scotland.”
The only injury concerns that arose from the Stade de France were wing Jonny May’s fractured nose and the cheekbone damage sustained by lock Courtney Lawes.
Lawes was passed fit on Sunday when it was revealed he had suffered only bruising and May was cleared to play in Edinburgh on Monday evening.
Wing Anthony Watson, fly-half George Ford and prop Matt Mullan travelled to Paris as reserves, but are among 10 players to have been released back to their clubs for the weekend’s Aviva Premiership action.
“All the squad have been excellent in training over the last two days and I know those going back to play for their clubs will be determined to put a marker down for the subsequent Six Nations matches,” Lancaster said.
There was much to admire in England’s performance against France, not least the character displayed in turning a 16-3 deficit into a 24-19 lead that was overtaken three minutes from time by a brilliant converted try by substitute Gael Fickou.
Danny Care and Owen Farrell bristled with attacking intent, debutants Luther Burrell and Jack Nowell grew in stature and the pack were in control up front.
But it was a game England should have won and Lancaster has lamented the errors that cost them a shot at the Grand Slam - and possibly the title - for another year.
Having opted to stick with the same 23, the starting XV selects itself with Lancaster highly unlikely to deviate from those selected to lead the assault on the Stade de France.