LONDON (Reuters) -Eddie Jones has included six uncapped players, four of them 20 or 21, in a 36-man England squad to prepare for the Six Nations championship and said on Tuesday that Owen Farrell, out for two months through injury, would captain the team.
Orlando Bailey (20), Alfie Barbeary (21), Ollie Chessum (21), Tommy Freeman (20), Ollie Hassell-Collins (23) and Luke Northmore (24) are the six new faces, while winger Jack Nowell also returns for the first time since the 2019 World Cup.
There was no recall, though, for in-form flyhalf George Ford - Bath's Bailey being preferred to back up probable first choice Marcus Smith - while centre Manu Tuilagi also misses out after suffering a setback to his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Farrell has not played since injuring an ankle on England duty in November, with Courtney Lawes taking over the captaincy, and is expected to return to club action for Saracens this weekend.
Although his England role looks increasingly likely to be at inside centre, Jones showed faith by inking him in as his on-pitch leader.
"Owen is captain because he has the respect of the team, he's a winner and he drives the competitive spirit of the team, Jones told a news conference.
The selection of Barbeary is an uplifting story as, having been briefly included by Jones in 2020, he suffered a series of injuries that kept him on the sidelines for most of last year.
Converted from hooker to the back row, he has really caught the eye for Wasps again in recent weeks.
"He’s got an extraordinary ability to break tackles and carry the ball forward in close contact," Jones said.
England, who finished fifth in last year's Six Nations, kick off away to Scotland on Feb. 5, with Jones, as ever, trying to balance short-term success with building towards France 2023.
"This Six Nations is the fourth-last campaign before the World Cup in 2023, so it's an important opportunity for us to keep building the team and keep building our tactical adaption," he said.
"We're looking forward to integrating some new young players into the squad. They all deserve the opportunity – they’ve shown enough."
The squad will meet in Brighton on Jan. 24 for a five-day training camp before switching to their usual Pennyhill Park base in Surrey.
After travelling to Murrayfield England face Italy in Rome and host Wales and Ireland before completing their campaign away to France on March 19.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Christian Radnedge and Ed Osmond)