Six Nations: England name unchanged side to face Italy

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England face powerful Italian 'cocktail' - Lancaster

RBS Six Nations: Italy v England

Venue:
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Date:
Saturday, 11 February
Kick-off:
1600 GMT
Coverage:
Watch on BBC TV, HD, Red Button and online from 1530 GMT; Listen to full commentary on 5 Live Sports Extra, second half also on BBC Radio 5 Live; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has named the same starting XV and bench that beat Scotland for Saturday's Six Nations match against Italy in Rome.

"We have decided to leave the starting team the same to allow them more time to get together, and we are expecting the bench to come on and make an impact as they did last week," said Lancaster.

Interim coach Lancaster's side battled to a 13-6 victory in Edinburgh.

Prop Joe Marler and scrum-half Joe Simpson will travel as injury cover.

Seven players made their international debuts in the victory at Murrayfield and Lancaster has given his inexperienced side the chance to build on their start.

Charlie Hodgson has recovered from a shoulder injury to resume his fly-half role while injured Northampton pair Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood are still sidelined after missing the team's tournament opener.

Leicester backs Toby Flood and Manu Tuilagi have also been given more time to prove their fitness and both could play for the Tigers at the weekend before a possible return against Wales on 25 February.

Scrum-half Lee Dickson has overcome a hand injury to take his place on the bench, while Northampton team-mate Phil Dowson, Lancaster's captain during his time in charge of the Saxons, has kept his place at number eight in the face of competition from Scarlets' Ben Morgan.

Lancaster stressed that he was keen to make full use of his replacements in the latter half of the match.

"Italy will be a very difficult challenge with nearly 700 caps in their starting line-up and it promises to be an outstanding occasion at the sold-out Stadio Olimpico," he added.

"The bench is an important dynamic for us, in the same way it was last week. The likes of [second row] Geoff Parling and Ben Morgan coming on in the second half will bring power and tempo to our game.

"Where we struggled at points against Scotland we didn't retain enough quality possession. We need to make sure we give ourselves more time with the ball and less time defending."

Italy, under the leadership of coach Jacques Brunel, lost 30-12 away to France in their opening match of the tournament, and are traditionally a tougher proposition at home.

The Azzurri beat France 22-21 in Rome last year after running Ireland and Wales close earlier in the 2011 Six Nations.

The hosts are led by number eight Serio Parisse, who wins his 85th cap. Former Gloucester lock Marco Bortolami starts in the second row while veteran flanker Mauro Bergamasco is on the bench after recovering from the shoulder injury that ruled him out of the 2011 championship.

England team to face Italy at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome: Ben Foden; Chris Ashton (both Northampton), Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell, David Strettle; Charlie Hodgson (all Saracens), Ben Youngs(Leicester); Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Dan Cole (Leicester); Mouritz Botha (Saracens) Tom Palmer (Stade Francais); Tom Croft (Leicester), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Phil Dowson (Northampton).

Replacements: Rob Webber (Wasps), Matt Stevens (Saracens), Geoff Parling (Leicester), Ben Morgan (Scarlets), Lee Dickson (Northampton), Jordan Turner-Hall, Mike Brown (both Harlequins).

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