England have released five players from their 45-man World Cup training squad.
Lions tourist and 78-cap cap veteran Joe Worsley is among those to miss the cut for next month’s global gathering in New Zealand.
Worsley, who was a Test Lion in 2009, is joined by Saracens wing David Strettle, Gloucester back James Simpson-Daniel and Leicester pair George Chuter and Thomas Waldrom.
World Cup winner Worsley and No8 Waldrom had been competing with skipper Lewis Moody, Tom Croft, James Haskell, Nick Easter, Tom Wood and Chris Robshaw for a back-row spot, while Chuter’s omission looks set to hand Lee Mears a World Cup place.
Mears has fallen behind both Dylan Hartley and Steve Thompson since winning Test honours with Britain and Ireland’s elite two summers ago but he now appears certain to board the plane to New Zealand as one of three travelling hookers.
Team manager Martin Johnson’s decision to send Strettle and Simpson-Daniel home has heightened another Lion’s chances of making the final party, with Ugo Monye now fighting it out with Charlie Sharples if Johnson opts to add another back-three player to seemingly certain squad members Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Mark Cueto and Delon Armitage.
Englandface Wales at Twickenham on Saturday in the first of three World Cup warm-up fixtures, with Johnson due to name his final 30-man squad in just over three weeks’ time.
A return clash with Wales follows a week later, with a trip to Dublin to face Grand Slam nemesis Ireland to come on August 27, five days after the deadline for squad announcements.
The World Cup campaign then starts against Argentina in Dunedin on September 10, with England hoping to become the first side to reach a third successive World Cup Final.
England's revised World Cup training squad
Full-backs: Delon Armitage (London Irish), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
Wings: Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby)
Centres: Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby), Riki Flutey (London Wasps), Shontayne Hape (London Irish), Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
Fly-halves: Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)
Scrum-halves: Danny Care (Harlequins), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Props: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Paul Doran-Jones (Northampton Saints), Tim Payne (London Wasps), Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Matt Stevens (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Hookers: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Lee Mears (Bath Rugby), Steve Thompson (London Wasps)
Locks: Mouritz Botha (Saracens), Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Simon Shaw (London Wasps)
Back row: Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Hendre Fourie (Sale Sharks), James Haskell (Unattached), Lewis Moody (Bath Rugby), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)