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Hartley & Lawes among ten sent back to their clubs by England

Stuart Lancaster has released ten players from the England squad to play for their clubs this weekend, including Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes who started against France, suggesting that they are likely to miss out against Italy.

England play Italy on the 10th March and the release, or indeed non release, of certain players this weekend can be used as a rough guide for predicting Stuart Lancaster’s 23 man matchday squad for that game.

The ten players that have been released are: Lee Dickson, Ben Foden, James Haskell, Matt Kvesic, David Strettle, Joel Tomkins, David Wilson, Thomas Waldrom and of course Hartley and Lawes.

With Dylan Hartley returning to his club while Tom Youngs remains at Pennyhill Park with the England squad, the suggestion is that Youngs will be returning to the starting XV against Italy.

Owen Farrell, Ben Morgan and Billy Vunipola are all still injured but remain in Pennyhill Park receiving treatment from the England medical staff. With both Haskell and Waldrom being released, it would appear that they will be playing off for a spot in the starting team on the 10th when they play for their clubs this weekend, unless Morgan or Vunipola recover quickly.

Chris Ashton looks likely to remain in the squad despite calls for some quarters for him to be rested after a perceived dip in form, and some unnecessary petulance in the game against France on Saturday.

France themselves have made two changes to their squad, despite having now lost three games in a row and faced calls for a mass turnover of their playing squad.

They have recalled Maxime Medard to the side and dropped winger Benjamin Fall, while Perpignan lock Sebastien Vahaamahina replaces Jocelino Suta.

Meanwhile Wales’ Gethin Jenkins will be out for around ten days according to his club Toulon, meaning that he will be touch and go for Wales’ match against Scotland on the 9th March.

Should the two time British and Irish Lion not make it then Bath’s Paul James, who impressed as a substitute against Italy at the weekend, will replace him.

Ulster have confirmed that fly half Paddy Jackson will start for them against Treviso on Saturday and will be the frontline kicker, ahead of Ruan Pienaar, after talks with the IRFU. Jackson made his debut for Ireland on Saturday in the 12-8 defeat to Scotland but missed three of his four kicks.

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