Danny Cipriani
Cipriani still has hopes of a future with England.

Sale fly-half Danny Cipriani could return to the England squad in the near future, according to head coach Stuart Lancaster.

The 26-year-old missed out on a place in Lancaster's Six Nations squad after it was announced that Bath's George Ford would replace France-bound Toby Flood.

The in-form Cipriani, who last played for England in 2008, has since failed to break back into the squad with Flood and Owen Farrell becoming regulars.

The departure of Flood from Leicester Tigers to Toulouse has however sparked a change in the England camp as RFU policy dictates that only under exceptional circumstances may an overseas club player represent England.

This then rules Flood out of an England spot and opens the door to the likes of Ford and Cipriani.

"There's certainly no issue with him as a person," said Lancaster, who broke the news to Cipriani over the telephone.

"I've said to him his goal has to be the summer tour of New Zealand."

He added: "I had a long conversation with him on Wednesday, a good chat. I have watched all his games.

"He's been a lot more consistent this season but I want to leave him at Sale to keep making progress, which he accepted and he said he felt it was the right thing to do.

"There are some areas where he's got some ground to make up as we move towards the World Cup.

"He's beginning to make up that ground, though, which is good."

Cipriani will now continue to play an instrumental role in the Sharks' recovery after they battled against relegation last season.