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England drop Back, Bracken, Corry

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LONDON, England (Reuters) -- England coach Clive Woodward has dropped World Cup winner Neil Back from his training squad for next Sunday's Six Nations match against Italy.

The Leicester flanker was left out of a 28-man squad announced by Woodward. Also dropped were World Cup squad members Kyran Bracken and Martin Corry.

Prop Graham Rowntree, who was unlucky not to make the World Cup trip, was also omitted.

"It's always hard to leave out such established international players as Back, Bracken, Corry and Rowntree but as always I am looking at current form and will continue to do so throughout the Six Nations and beyond," Woodward said.

The coach will name his squad of 22 on Monday for the February 15 Rome match.

Several other members of the World Cup squad are unavailable through injury -- including Jonny Wilkinson, Stuart Abbott, Mike Catt, Lewis Moody, Mike Tindall and Julian White.

But it is the absence of Back, one of the stalwarts of England's drive to the peak of world rugby, which will be the main talking point.

The 35-year-old was being touted as a possible new captain a week ago but, after winning 66 caps -- four as captain -- his international career could be over as Woodward begins the task of easing the next generation into place.

Back made his England debut in 1994 but struggled to hold down a regular place as he was considered too small for an international back row.

However, having starred in the victorious British Lions tour of South Africa in 1997 he became a regular in Woodward's England team, becoming part of a fearsome trio alongside Lawrence Dallaglio and Richard Hill.

Woodward has also called up eight "younger players who have the potential to be involved in an England side" to train with the senior squad this week.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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