February 7, 2017 / 9:35 PM / a year ago

Rugby - England retain Clifford, Slade for Wales clash

LONDON (Reuters) - England’s Jack Clifford and Henry Slade were retained by coach Eddie Jones as he named a 24-man squad on Tuesday for this weekend’s Six Nations clash in Wales.

Harlequins number eight Clifford and Exeter back Slade were the only additions to the squad that beat France 19-16 in England’s opening encounter at Twickenham with Northampton Saints flanker Teimana Harrison dropping out.

Clifford could be thrust straight into the starting lineup at openside flanker on Saturday as Tom Wood has been unable to train this week after injuring his shoulder against France.

The England coach will name his team on Thursday but has already suggested there will not be many changes and said James Haskell, so effective as a late replacement against France, will again start on the bench as he builds towards match fitness after his lengthy layoff following toe surgery.

Britain Rugby Union - England Training - Twickenham Stadium - 2/12/16 England's Henry Slade during training Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Boyers Livepic

England have not fared well in Cardiff in recent years, losing on five of their last seven visits, though they did triumph 21-16 on their last appearance there in 2015 to dim the memories of a 30-3 thrashing they suffered two years earlier when they arrived gunning for a grand slam.

As soon as Jones had banked Saturday’s win over France, the Australian began his psychological assault on the Welsh, saying he could not understand why England were “so petrified” of playing in Wales, where he described their record as horrendous.

“It is one of the greatest rugby countries in the world so to play Wales in Cardiff with that sort of atmosphere is one of the great delights of rugby,” Jones said.

“Obviously it has been difficult for the English to cope with it so we need to find a way where they see it as being a delight.”

Wales go into the game on something of a high after turning on the style in the second half to beat Italy 33-7 in Rome, albeit missing out on a four-try bonus point.

Reporting by Mitch Phillips/Toby Davis, editing by Ken Ferris

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