Leicester Tigers scrum-half Harry Ellis will return to action on Friday, January 30 as he bids to press his claims for a first Lions tour.
The 26-year-old England international will feature for his country’s Saxons side in a friendly with Portugal seven weeks after being banned from all competition following Leicester’s Heineken Cup defeat in Perpignan.
Ellis, who came on as a second-half replacement for the Tigers in that match, was suspended for six weeks following a dangerous tackle on All Black star Dan Carter.
The length of the ban put his place in England’s 32-man Elite Playing Squad in doubt but former club colleague Martin Johnson kept faith with Ellis, who will now use the clash with Portugal to gain match fitness ahead of next month’s Six Nations.
Ellis will be looking to put pressure on current England No9 Danny Care as he attempts to push for a place on the Lions’ summer tour of South Africa which is now only four months away.
Ellis is joined in the England Saxons squad by Tigers team-mates Dan Cole and Matt Smith, who are both called up for the first time, as well as Leicester No8 Jordan Crane, who was recently demoted from the senior squad, and flanker Ben Woods.
Bath full back Nick Abendanon is also likely to start for the Saxons, while Bristol fly-half Ed Barnes and Leeds Carnegie flanker Kearnan Myall are also included.
The success of England’s Under 20 squad at last year’s Junior World Cup sees Saracens youngsters Noah Cato and Alex Goode recognised alongside London Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson and Bath prop Nathan Catt.
There are three rearranged Guinness Premiership fixtures on Saturday, January 31, meaning players from Gloucester, London Irish, Harlequins, Northampton, Worcester and Sale are unavailable for selection.
Saxons head coach Stuart Lancaster will make further additions to the squad later this week.
England Saxons training squad
Forwards: Nathan Catt (Bath), Dan Cole (Leicester), Jordan Crane (Leicester), Phil Dowson (Newcastle), Tom Mercey (Saracens), Kearnan Myall (Leeds Carnegie), Andy Saull (Saracens), George Skivington (Wasps), Joe Ward (Wasps), Rob Webber (Wasps), Dave Wilson (Newcastle), Ben Woods (Leicester)
Backs: Nick Abendanon (Bath), Ed Barnes (Bristol) Noah Cato (Saracens), Alex Goode (Saracens), Adam Powell (Saracens) Harry Ellis (Leicester), Joe Simpson (Wasps), Matt Smith (Leicester), Dominic Waldouck (Wasps)