England coach Lancaster cuts Toby Flood from Italy squad

England head coach Stuart 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

Toby Flood is among eight players cut by England head coach Stuart Lancaster for Saturday's Six Nations match against Italy in Rome.

The fly-half is now available for club duty this weekend after being given more time to prove his fitness.

Meanwhile, scrum-half Lee Dickson will be fit despite fracturing a bone in his hand against Scotland last Saturday.

Lancaster is expected to name a largely unchanged side. "At the moment we need a bit of stability," he told BBC Sport.

"You wouldn't envisage wholesale changes, but there's going to be some competition and that's the way we want it."

Flood had replaced Alex Goode in the training party after he recovered from a knee injury. The decision has seen Lancaster follow through with his previous hint that the trip to the Stadio Olimpico would come too soon for the 26-year-old: "He's a proven international player, but he needs to find his feet and we need to see where he's at.

"That said, we are pleased with the way Charlie Hodgson and Owen Farrell went, so the reality is we'll probably have to give him more game time."

Following Flood back to their Aviva Premiership sides are fellow Leicester Tiger Thomas Waldrom, Bath trio Dave Attwood, Matt Banahan and Lee Mears, Northampton Saints flanker Calum Clark, Harlequins scrum-half Karl Dickson and Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples.

Dickson had been drafted in as a replacement for younger brother Lee after he suffered a fractured metacarpal in his left hand in Saturday's 13-6 win at Murrayfield. The Saints' number nine's condition is now described as 'stable.'

Lancaster confirmed that centre Manu Tuilagi would return to full-time training this week with club side Leicester and could rejoin England next week.

However, Northampton pair Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood remain on the sidelines.

England celebrate with the Calcutta Cup

While Lancaster was delighted with the victory over Scotland in his first game in charge, he acknowledged that there was plenty of room for improvement.

"It gave us the belief we were going in the right direction," said Lancaster.

"We didn't achieve anything like the accuracy we would have liked but, in terms of spirit, working hard, commitment, which are the foundations of teams, that showed in abundance.

"What we didn't get right for long periods in the game was our basics. We didn't retain the ball well enough, there were a couple of errors on set-pieces and we lost possession at crucial times.

"When you've got lots of different people coming from different structures and systems it takes a while to get it ingrained and you can never replicate that pressure [in training].

"But it gives us something to build on, is a reference point and this week's review will be crucial to what we do next week."

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