Saints star Mitchell in line to play a part for England against Italy

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Alex Mitchell is in line to win his second England cap after the Saints star was one of two scrum-halves retained ahead of Sunday's Guinness Six Nations clash with Italy at Twickenham (kick-off 3pm).

Mitchell and Jack van Poortvliet are the options to wear the nine shirt, with Ben Youngs left out of the 29-player group named by boss Steve Borthwick on Wednesday.

Lewis Ludlam, who started and shone for England in their defeat to Scotland last Saturday, David Ribbans, Fin Smith and Tommy Freeman have also been retained.

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Mitchell had been one of the men released ahead of the Scotland fixture last week, but he now looks set to be given a chance to impress on a matchday.

Alex MitchellAlex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell

Earlier this week, Saints assistant coach Matt Ferguson was speaking about Mitchell, who is the reigning supporters' and players' player of the year at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens.

Ferguson said: "One of the things we all know here about Alex is that he plays with quick ball from the breakdown and we pride ourselves on that speed of ball.

"It's not often the nine that makes it, but it's the nine that plays on it and there's not many better running threats than Alex when he gets his hands on that speed of ball.

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"England are blessed in that area but I would certainly back Mitch any day of the week on front foot ball, challenging around those A, B defenders."

England will name their team to play Italy on Friday afternoon.

England squad: Forwards: Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 6 caps), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 96 caps), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 10 caps), Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby, 3 caps), Ben Earl (Saracens, 14 caps), Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 44 caps), Jamie George (Saracens, 73 caps), Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, 9 caps), Maro Itoje (Saracens, 63 caps), Lewis Ludlam (Saints, 15 caps), David Ribbans (Saints, 3 caps), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 57 caps), Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 75 caps), Jack Walker (Harlequins, uncapped), Jack Willis (Toulouse, 6 caps)

Backs: Henry Arundell (London Irish, 3 caps), Owen Farrell (Saracens, 102 caps), Tommy Freeman (Saints, 3 caps), Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish, 1 cap), Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 8 caps), Max Malins (Saracens, 15 caps), Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 14 caps), Alex Mitchell (Saints, 1 cap), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 52 caps), Fin Smith (Saints, uncapped), Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 18 caps), Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 18 caps), Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 50 caps), Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, 8 caps)