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England places up for grabs at Welford Road

Leicester versus Harlequins this weekend is not just atop of the table Aviva Premiership clash, it is a game loaded with connotations for England in the QBE Autumn Tests.

All over the park there will be players vying for a place in the England side, with this game providing the best chance to demonstrate to prove to Stuart Lancaster that they can cut it at the highest level.

Perhaps the player with the biggest challenge is Leicester fly half Toby Flood. Under stiff competition at club level from George Ford and at international level from Owen Farrell, Flood has to show he is the man.

He is up against Nick Evans, the best fly half in the league without a doubt, and a player England would give anything for. How Flood deals with Evans will be key not just to the outcome of the game, but also possibly to Stuart Lancaster’s thinking ahead of the autumn.

Elsewhere, Joe Marler comes up against his toughest opponent of the season in his England colleague Dan Cole. Locked in a battle for the loosehead shirt with Corbisiero, if Marler can compete with Cole at scrum time he will propel himself to the forefront of the England management’s minds.

In midfield, Harlequins due of Jordan Turner-Hall and George Lowe will face Anthony Allen and Manu Tuilagi. Tuilagi is all but guaranteed one of the centre berths for England but the others are all in contention for the other.

These are just some of the clashes that provide a bit of extra spice on Saturday, there are a host of others all over the park, including Thomas Waldrom at Number 8 trying to prove that he is the man for the England 8 shirt.

You can bet your life that the England management will be watching this game with a scrutiny beyond that of many others, for it is in these high pressure clashes that the international arena is best replicated.

These games are where attitude and mentality are of greater importance than mere skill, where a will to win sees you through.

For Marler, Flood and co, this is their audition.

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