ENGLAND coach Steve McNamara has drafted St Helens half-back Jonny Lomax into his 32-man Elite Training Squad in a mid-season reshuffle.
Lomax, who has been in scintillating form for Saints this season, is one of five players called up into a new-look ETS which also sees five players omitted.
“Jonny joins the ETS from the Knights squad and is another player who has impressed me with the progress he has made this year,” said McNamara. “At the start of the season he wasn’t sure what his best position would be he knows now and it shows. He’s a smashing young man and I’m looking forward to working with him in the ETS.”
The squad, which will go into camp at Loughborough University on August 14 to continue preparations for the 2011 Gillette Four Nations, now includes Hull FC centre Kirk Yeaman, Leeds Rhinos second row Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Warrington Wolves duo Garreth Carvell and Ryan Atkins, as well as Lomax.
Out go the Hull Kingston Rovers pairing of Liam Watts and Peter Fox, Harlequins RL centre Tony Clubb, St Helens prop Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Rob Burrow, the Leeds Rhinos scrum-half.
“We have a year-round programme for the ETS and this new group of players will form the nucleus of our international preparations over the next six months,” said McNamara. “The five players who have come in are all worthy of their inclusion because of their form so far in 2011.
“Ryan Atkins, Garreth Carvell and Jamie Jones Buchanan were all in the squad for the International Origin Match whilst the other two have been impressive for some time.
“Kirk Yeaman has been consistently good for most of this year and his challenge now is to improve his form to put himself in contention for selection in the 24-man squad that will be involved in the Four Nations.”
Lomax and Atkins were previously members of the England Knights squad, a revised format of which was announced earlier this month.
The five players who have been dropped from the ETS will not join the Knights programme but McNamara has not ruled out the possibility of any of them gaining selection for the Four Nations.
“Competition for places in the 24-man squad will be intense, especially as there are also the Australia-based players to consider, but that doesn’t mean that any player is ruled out,” said McNamara.
“All the players who have dropped out of the ETS should now focus on playing as well as they between now and the end of the season with the aim of forcing their way back in.”
The 2011 Elite Training squad in full is:
Ryan Atkins (Warrington Wolves, Stanningley)
Chris Bridge (Warrington Wolves, Waterhead)
Tom Briscoe (Hull FC, Featherstone Lions)
Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants, Thornhill)
Garreth Carvell (Warrington Wolves, Stanningley)
Eorl Crabtree (Huddersfield Giants, Huddersfield YMCA)
Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome Panthers)
Brett Ferres (Castleford Tigers, Smawthorne Panthers)
James Graham (St Helens, Blackbrook)
Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
Ben Harrison (Warrington Wolves, Barrow Island)
Ben Jones-Bishop (Leeds Rhinos, Milford)
Jamie Jones-Buchanan (Leeds Rhinos, Stanningley)
Jonny Lomax (St Helens, Orrell St James)
Danny McGuire (Leeds Rhinos, East Leeds)
Michael McIlorum (Wigan Warriors, Queens)
Adrian Morley (Warrington Wolves, Eccles)
Richie Myler (Warrington Wolves, Halton West Bank)
Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)
Jamie Peacock (Leeds Rhinos, Stanningley)
Paul Prescott (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Judes)
Leon Pryce (St Helens, Queensbury)
Luke Robinson (Huddersfield Giants, Siddal)
James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook)
Michael Shenton (St Helens, Upton)
Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos, Waterhead)
Joel Tomkins (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)
Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)
Kris Welham (Hull Kingston Rovers, Myton Warriors)
Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves, Normanton)
Jon Wilkin (St Helens, East Hull)
Kirk Yeaman (Hull FC, Myton Warriors)
England’s next fixture is an international against France in Avignon on Friday October 21 (7.30pm).
England kick-off their Gillette Four Nations campaign eight days later on Saturday October 29, when they take on Wales at Leigh Sports Village (2.30pm) with tickets priced at only £10 for adults and £5 concessions.
The following week sees Wembley host a double-header on Saturday November 5 when Wales take on New Zealand at 1.00pm before England face Australia at 3.30pm.
To mark the return of International Rugby League to Wembley, the RFL have introduced a special celebratory offer, giving fans the chance to purchase a £25 ticket for only £10 if they book before Friday July 22 by quoting promotional code ‘4NWEM01′.
England’s third group game against New Zealand will be played at the KC Stadium in Hull on Saturday November 12 (6.00pm) and tickets are priced from £20 adult and £10 concession.
The 2011 Gillette Four Nations final will be played at Elland Road in Leeds on Saturday November 19 (6.00pm) and tickets are priced from £20 Adult and £10 concession.
Tickets for the 2011 Gillette Four Nations can be purchased by calling 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk