George Ford called up for England Six Nations match v Ireland, Barritt dropped

The 20 year old is included in England's 23 for the weekend's Six Nations Test against as-yet unbeaten Ireland. Brad Barritt was dropped in favour of Ford.

George Ford trains with England at Pennyhill Park on Tuesday. David Rogers / Getty Images
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Uncapped fly-half George Ford was included in England’s 23 for their Six Nations international against Ireland at Twickenham this weekend when coach Stuart Lancaster announced his match-day squad on Tuesday.

England, who beat Scotland 20-0 last time out after losing 26-24 to France in Paris in their tournament opener, have so far got through this Six Nations without specialist bench cover for fly-half Owen Farrell.

But, ahead of what is set to be a bruising encounter against unbeaten Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday, Lancaster has decided to call-up 20-year-old Bath rising star Ford, with centre Brad Barritt no longer involved.

“We feel that the time is right to include George Ford in the match-day squad,” Lancaster said.

“We have successfully integrated and included many young players over the last two years and George is the next exciting talent to make his mark in the senior squad and we are looking forward to see him develop over the next few months,” the England coach added.

“Brad Barritt is obviously disappointed to miss out but he is still a key member of our squad and I am sure he will get further opportunities in the future”

Earlier on Tuesday, England backs coach Andy Farrell, Owen’s father, said he’d no qualms about Ford’s suitability for Test rugby.

“Definitely George would be ready to play against Ireland,” Farrell said. “He knows all the plays and our systems and is comfortable with them.

“When you get that you can start being yourself and bring your game to the party.”

Lancaster will have to make at least one, enforced, change to the starting side after prop Dan Cole was ruled out of the remainder of the Six Nations this week with a neck injury.

David Wilson is set to take the front-row forward’s place, with Lancaster due to give an update on Cole’s fitness after he announces his starting side on Thursday.

Saturday’s match will be the final time Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll faces England before his retirement at the end of the season.

The gifted centre is eyeing a second Grand Slam following tournament leaders Ireland’s home wins over Scotland (28-6) and defending champions Wales (26-3).

Farrell knows O’Driscoll well, having coached him on the victorious British and Irish Lions tour of Australia last year and is in no doubt the midfield maestro remains a force even at 35 years of age.

“Brian is certainly a threat,” former dual code international Farrell said. “He can turn a game on its head with the special skills and knowledge he has.

“What he brings – even more so these days – is a unity to the team and a real know-how of how to win big games because he’s been there more times than anyone else.”

England squad:

Backs (10): Mike Brown (Harlequins), Luther Burrell (Northampton), Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester), Jack Nowell (Exeter), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester)

Forwards (13): David Attwood (Bath), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt) Henry Thomas (Sale), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton), Tom Youngs (Leicester)