As expected, England have dropped fly-half George Ford for their pivotal Rugby World Cup Pool A match against rivals Wales on Saturday 26 September. Owen Farrell will wear the number 10 shirt at Twickenham, with Sam Burgess also called up to deputise for the injured Jonathan Joseph and number eight Billy Vunipola replacing Ben Morgan after the latter sustained a knee problem in the 35-11 victory over Fiji.

Among the replacements, experienced Wasps back-rower James Haskell is brought in as cover and full-back Alex Goode gets the nod ahead of Exeter's Henry Slade. Ben Youngs retains his place at scrum-half ahead of Richard Wigglesworth despite largely flattering to deceive on a nervy opening night.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster is due to explain his personnel decisions at a media conference to be held later on 24 September. In an initial press release from the Rugby Football Union (RFU), he said: " We have a lot of respect for the Wales coaching team and their players. They are a high-quality side and I am sure it will be some occasion on Saturday evening.

"The support at Twickenham last week was incredible with the crowd really getting behind us. We will need them again this week to lift the players against a tough Wales team."

Given he has impressed during his run as first-choice number 10 aside from a poor showing in the warm-up defeat to France, the decision to oust Ford after just one tournament outing represents a huge gamble. Having lost an influential and gifted attacking talent in Joseph to a chest injury, Lancaster has reverted to a rather cautious line-up that will see defensive captain Brad Barritt shift a place to outside centre to accommodate the arrival of rugby league convert Burgess.

While that new midfield trio will bring plenty of uncompromising physicality and crucial solidity, particularly against the imposing figure of Jamie Roberts, the lack of ingenuity will be of considerable concern. Slade, picked as the back-up creative option instead of Danny Cipriani, may be aggrieved to not even have made the bench and the whole selection rather serves to highlight the curious absence of Luther Burrell.

Wales, who have attracted controversy after allegedly allowing players outside of their 31-man squad to join in with training on 23 September, have been beset by injury problems before, during and after their 54-9 demolition of minnows Uruguay in Cardiff. Warren Gatland is due to name his starting XI to face England at 11am BST.

Jonathan Joseph
Jonathan Joseph will be a big miss for England as they seek to record a third consecutive win over WalesAFP

England starting XV v Wales: Brown (Harlequins); Watson (Bath), Barritt (Saracens), Burgess (Bath); May (Gloucester); Farrell (Saracens), B Youngs (Leicester); Marler (Harlequins), T Youngs (Leicester), Cole (Leicester), Parling (Exeter Chiefs), Lawes (Northampton), Wood (Northampton), Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Vunipola (Saracens).

Replacements: Webber (Bath), M Vunipola (Saracens), Brookes (Northampton), Launchbury (Wasps), Haskell (Wasps), Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ford (Bath), Goode (Saracens)

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