Dylan Hartley has been left out of England's Rugby World Cup training squad as the hooker continues to struggle with a knee problem.

England co-captain Hartley has not played since December and the Northampton Saints man's prolonged period of inactivity appears to have scuppered his hopes of featuring in Japan later this year.

Flanker and former England skipper Chris Robshaw and scrum-half Danny Care are other high-profile omissions.

Alex Dombrandt, Lewis Ludlam, Ruaridh McConnochie and Val Rapava Ruskin have been called up to the senior squad for the first time.

The 29-man party does not include any players involved in the Premiership semi-finals, with those from Gloucester and Northampton to join the camp next week.

Players from champions Saracens and runners-up Exeter Chiefs will then come into the reckoning when Eddie Jones names his final training party on July 4.

On Wednesday, Exeter's Jack Nowell was backed to recover from ankle surgery in time to feature at the World Cup by Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter.

George Kruis and Mako Vunipola will report for medical treatment when the squad gather for a week at Pennyhill Park and the Lensbury on June 30.

 

England training squad:

Forwards

Dan Cole, Tom Curry, Alex Dombrandt, Tom Dunn, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Joe Launchbury, Lewis Ludlam, Val Rapava Ruskin, Nick Schonert, Brad Shields, Kyle Sinckler, Jack Singleton, Sam Underhill, Mark Wilson.

Backs

Chris Ashton, Mike Brown, Joe Cokanasiga, Elliot Daly, George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Jonny May, Ruaridh McConnochie, Dan Robson, Marcus Smith, Ben Te'o, Manu Tuilagi, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs.

In for medical treatment

George Kruis and Mako Vunipola.

Maro Itoje, Chris Robshaw and Jonathan Joseph have returned from injury to form part of England's 31-man training squad for the Six Nations clash with Italy on Saturday.

Saracens lock Itoje sustained knee ligament damage in 32-20 win over Ireland on February 2 and sat out the victory over France and the 21-13 loss to Wales in Cardiff.

However, with Courtney Lawes ruled out for the remainder of the competition due to a calf injury, Itoje has been drafted in to prepare for the Azzurri's visit to Twickenham.

Flanker Robshaw also returns to the fold on the back of a try-scoring display in Harlequins’ 31-29 victory at Bath on Saturday.

The former England skipper sat out the November internationals due to a knee injury and has played just four matches since returning in January.

Bath wing Joseph spent nine months out with an ankle issue and, having also made his comeback in January, has appeared just three times for his club this season.

England have suffered another blow after Chris Robshaw was ruled out of the November internationals with a knee injury.

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