England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster is preparing to trim his 45-man squad by up to nine players in the build up to his sides opening warm-up game against France.

It is expected that despite the cull, both Sam Burgess and Henry Slade will retain their places in the training squad in order to be given chance during the first warm-up game against Les Bleus.

The retention of centres Burgess and Slade will see both Kyle Eastmond and Billy Twelvetrees released, whilst Luther Burrell is expected to retain his place. This will leave Burrell, Burgess and Slade to battle it out for midfield spots alongside Brad Barritt and Jonathan Joseph who are widely expected to make the final 31-man squad.


Lancaster is also expected to announce that Marland Yarde, Matt Mullan, Lee Dickson and Matt Kvesic have been released this weekend. All the players will be given an opportunity to prove themselves during training assessments this week, but barring an impressive display during the sessions, Lancaster is believed to know who will remain with the squad over the coming weeks.

Reports out of camp are also suggesting that the England coaching staff are seriously considering selecting Burgess in the final squad as a result of his X-factor. They believe that his character, drive and big game temperament are invaluable qualities that are perhaps currently lacking in the squad.

With this in mind, Lancaster is set to start Danny Cipriani, Sam Burgess and Henry Slade as a 10, 12, 13 axis against France in a bid to see whether all three players can show enough to justify inclusion in the squad.