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Alex Mitchell of England has been given the green light to start against Italy after passing a fitness test.
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Alex Mitchell of England has been given the green light to start against Italy after passing a fitness test.

Alex Mitchell was unexpectedly added to the England team’s starting lineup for their match against Italy on Saturday. This came as a surprise after he made a quick recovery from a leg injury and demonstrated his readiness during a fitness test on Thursday morning.

The scrum-half from Northampton was unable to participate in training on Monday and Tuesday due to a wound on his leg that became infected. Initially, it was believed that he would only be considered for a spot on the bench. However, head coach Steve Borthwick has chosen to start the 26-year-old in England’s first Six Nations match in Rome. Additionally, Borthwick has selected five players who have not yet played in a match at this level to be part of the 23-player squad.

Fraser Dingwall and Ethan Roots are part of the five-player team, with Fin Smith, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, and Chandler Cunningham-South as the substitutes. While all five players are qualified to play for other nations, Borthwick has secured them for England on the condition that they are given playing time.

George Ford will wear the No. 10 jersey while Fin Smith will be on the bench. Borthwick is relieved by Mitchell’s presence as he had previously lost Marcus Smith, who was set to start as fly-half, to an injury this week.

After being included in nine previous England squads without getting a chance to play, Dingwall will finally have the opportunity to earn his first cap. Meanwhile, Roots, who previously played for the Maori All Blacks, will make his debut for England after joining Exeter in the summer. Borthwick has also secured the commitment of Fin Smith and Dingwall, who are eligible to play for Scotland, as well as Feyi-Waboso, who could represent Wales, and Cunningham-South from New Zealand.

Jamie George is leading the team for the first time, with Joe Marler and Will Stuart selected as the props. Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum make up the second row, while Sam Underhill and Ben Earl join Roots in the back row. Itoje, along with Ellis Genge, who is on the bench, are the vice captains.

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Henry Slade returns to the starting lineup as the outside-centre after not making it onto the World Cup team. Meanwhile, Tommy Freeman will make his debut under Borthwick, joining Elliot Daly and Freddie Steward in the back-three. Theo Dan, Dan Cole, Alex Coles, and Danny Care are the other substitutes.

Source: theguardian.com