Huntingdon's George Furbank placed on standby for England's Six Nations campaign

Ben Youngs (left), Alex Mitchell (centre) and George Furbank of England rugby in October 2020

Ben Youngs (left) has made the full 28-man squad for the 2021 Six Nations but Northampton Saints pair Alex Mitchell (centre) and George Furbank (right) will be part of the shadow squad. - Credit: ANDREW MATTHEWS/PA

George Furbank could miss out on the Six Nations after England announced their 28-man squad for the duration of the tournament.

The former Huntingdon junior has been placed in the shadow squad alongside the likes of Jamie Joseph and Charlie Ewels, a group of 12 that will only see action if injury or illness forces one of the original 28 to leave the protective bubble.

However, they will go through the same testing procedure as the tournament squad.

The squad system, akin to that chosen for a Rugby World Cup, is new for this season and was brought in to help combat the challenges of COVID-19.

It presented head coach Eddie Jones with a few difficult decisions.

He said: "This has been a really tough squad to pick and I know there are a lot of disappointed players who haven’t been selected.

"We’re really excited by the players we have got, it’s a very vibrant squad and are looking forward to getting started next week.

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“We’re very grateful to the Premiership Rugby, the clubs and Rugby Players' Association for allowing us to have 28 players throughout the tournament. We’re very happy with the number and it’s testament to the growing relationships between all parties.

“Ultimately our goal is to win the Six Nations and to do that we’ll need to work hard and prepare well each day and take it as it comes.”

The squad includes potential debutants in Paolo Odogwu, Harry Randall and Beno Obano while other milestones could see both Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson reach the 50-cap mark.

Owen Farrell will captain England for the tournament and there is a return from injury for Courtney Lawes.

The squad will meet up at St George's Park, home of the England football team, this week before opening their campaign at home to Scotland on Saturday, February 6.


England squad for 2021 Six Nations:
Backs
Elliot Daly (Saracens, 47 caps)
Owen Farrell (Saracens, 88 caps)
George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 72 caps)
Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors, 3 caps)
Max Malins (Bristol Bears, 3 caps)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 61 caps)
Paolo Odogwu (Wasps, uncapped)
Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, uncapped)
Dan Robson (Wasps, 7 caps)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 34 caps)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 46 caps)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 104 caps)

Forwards 
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 26 caps)
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 28 caps)
Ben Earl (Bristol Bears, 8 caps)
Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 23 caps)
Jamie George (Saracens, 54 caps)
Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, 3 caps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 43 caps)
Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 69 caps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 85 caps)
Joe Marler (Harlequins, 72 caps)
Beno Obano (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 8 caps)
Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 22 caps)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 56 caps)
Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 18 caps)
Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 19 caps)

Shadow squad
Charlie Atkinson (Wasps, uncapped)
Ali Crossdale (Saracens, uncapped)
Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 17 caps)
George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 3 caps)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 54 caps)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 4 caps)
George Martin (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Jacob Umaga (Wasps, uncapped)
Jack Willis (Wasps, 2 caps)

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