Pennell handed England call-up

Chris Pennell has been included in England's initial squad to tour New Zealand

Chris Pennell has been included in England's initial squad to tour New Zealand

First published in National Sport News © by

Worcester full-back Chris Pennell has won his first England call-up for the three-Test tour of New Zealand next month, with Danny Cipriani included for the first time since 2008.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster has named seven uncapped players in a 30-man initial squad to fly to New Zealand on Tuesday, to compete for selection for the first Test on June 7, but Bath's Anthony Watson misses out entirely after suffering suspected hamstring trouble in Friday night's Amlin Challenge Cup final.

Front-row quartet Kieran Brookes, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Gray and Dave Ward, Leicester lock Ed Slater and Gloucester centre Henry Trinder complete the uncapped group of tourists, with an extra group of players to be named on June 2 following the Aviva Premiership final.

Pennell has starred for Worcester all season despite the Warriors' Premiership relegation, with club boss Dean Ryan continually calling for the 27-year-old to win England recognition.

England boss Lancaster has delayed confirmation of the Aviva Premiership finalists who will jet out to New Zealand owing to injury concerns surrounding Saracens duo Owen Farrell and Mako Vunipola.

Saracens take on Northampton in the Premiership showpiece contest at Twickenham on Saturday, with both clubs' England stars unavailable for the first Test just a week later.

Farrell damaged an ankle tripping on TV wires while warming up for Saturday's Heineken Cup final against Toulon, while front-rower Vunipola left Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on crutches after Saracens' 23-6 defeat.

Lancaster will also sweat on Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley's fitness, the Saints captain battling to be ready to return for Saturday's Premiership battle.

Fit-again Marland Yarde is back in England's full squad after missing the entire RBS 6 Nations with a hip problem.

Wasps flanker James Haskell has also earned himself a recall to the England squad, included for the first time since the 2013 Six Nations.

"We are excited about the squad we are taking to New Zealand and, while there continues to be challenges in selection, we will be well and truly ready for the first Test," said Lancaster.

"It has been a good few days' training and great to be able to work with a larger group of players in the lead up to the Barbarians game and the tour.

"With the Barbarians game and the Aviva Premiership final to come we will make our final selection once we know the availability of all players. This group will fly out on the Monday following the Barbarians game.

"As is often the case there are some players unavailable through injury and it is a shame that recently both George Ford (Bath Rugby) and Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers) have had to withdraw due to shoulder and knee injuries sustained towards the end of the season."

Lancaster has refused to rule Bath flyer Watson out of the tour at this stage, but his chances remain exceedingly bleak considering he has been omitted at this stage.

"Anthony Watson is being treated for a hamstring injury and will continue his recovery in England before a final decision is made on whether he will join us in New Zealand on the Monday flight post Aviva final and Barbarians game," said Lancaster.

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