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Abbie Ward returns to Red Roses squad for first time since maternity leave as Six Nations preparation begins

Abbie Ward has been included in England's first training squad in their preparation for the Guinness Women's Six Nations; She returns to the side less than a year after giving birth to her daughter; Poppy Cleall is the big name left out of the side

England v Ireland - TikTok Women's Six Nations - Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium
England's Abbie Ward in action during the TikTok Women's Six Nations match at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium, Leicester. Picture date: Sunday April 24, 2022.
Image: Abbie Ward returns to the England squad for the first time since her maternity leave

Red Roses head coach John Mitchell has named a 38-player training squad for the Red Roses' first camp of 2024, with Abbie Ward included for the first time since her maternity leave.

Ward returns to England camp less than a year after giving birth to her daughter as the side begin their preparations for the Guinness Women's Six Nations which gets under way in late March.

The squad will assemble on January 22 for three days and there are six uncapped players in the mix by the way of Exeter's Lizzie Hanlon, Katie Buchanan, and Merryn Doidge, Loughborough Lightning's Lilli Ives Campion, Saracens' Sharifa Kasolo and Bristol's Gabriella Nigrelli.

Image: The Red Roses enter the Six Nations as defending Grand Slam Champions

The experienced Poppy Cleall has been omitted from the 38-player squad and is not thought to be injured. She has 65 caps under her belt for the Red Roses.

On his squad selection, Mitchell said: "We are excited to come together for our first camp of 2024 and build on the positive experience of WXV and introduce some new people to what we are about.

"It is our first opportunity to revisit what we value, update our athletic profiling data of the group and re-focus on where our game is working and where we take it to next."

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England attack coach Lou Meadows says the Red Roses are 'showing confidence' in their new attacking style of play

Amy Cokayne, Emily Scarratt, Morwenna Talling, Zoe Harrison, and Zoe Aldcroft miss out on the camp through injury.

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The Red Roses will get their Six Nations title defence under way against Italy on March 24.

Red Roses 38-player training squad

Forwards: Maisy Allen (Exeter Chiefs), Lark Atkin-Davies (Bristol Bears), Sarah Beckett (Gloucester-Hartpury), Hannah Botterman (Bristol Bears), Mackenzie Carson (Gloucester-Hartpury), Kelsey Clifford (Saracens), May Campbell (Saracens), Rosie Galligan (Saracens), Lizzie Hanlon (Exeter Chiefs), Daisy Hibbert-Jones (Loughborough Lightning), Lilli Ives Campion (Loughborough Lightning), Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning), Sharifa Kasolo (Saracens), Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury), Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury), Gabriella Nigrelli (Bristol Bears), Cath O'Donnell (Loughborough Lightning), Marlie Packer (Saracens), Ellena Perry (Gloucester-Hartpury), Connie Powell (Harlequins), Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears)

Backs: Holly Aitchison (Bristol Bears), Sophie Bridger (Saracens), Jess Breach (Saracens), Katie Buchanan (Exeter Chiefs), Merryn Doidge (Exeter Chiefs), Abby Dow (Trailfinders Women), Sydney Gregson (Saracens), Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury), Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury), Megan Jones (Leicester Tigers), Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins), Claudia MacDonald (Exeter Chiefs), Lucy Packer (Harlequins), Amber Reed (Bristol Bears), Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning), Emma Sing (Gloucester-Hartpury), Ella Wyrwas (Saracens)

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