Simon Shaw and Mathew Tait have been included in the England squad for Saturday's final Investec Challenge showdown with New Zealand at Twickenham.
Shaw, the 36-year-old Wasps lock, missed the first two autumn internationals as he completed his comeback from a foot injury, and England have missed his physical presence in the second row.
Martin Johnson will confirm his starting side at midday tomorrow but it would be highly surprising if Shaw did not feature in the second row alongside captain Steve Borthwick.
Shaw has returned to the squad in place of Northampton tyro Courtney Lawes, who made his Test debut off the bench against Australia but did not feature in last weekend’s victory over Argentina.
Shaw’s last Test appearances were for the British and Irish Lions in South Africa. He produced one of the outstanding Lions performances in the second Test and then played a key role in their third Test victory over the Springboks.
England and Lions scrum coach Graham Rowntree said: “Shawsy is back in the mix. If he gives anything like he gave the Lions in that second Test, I will be happy.”
Tait, who has been rendered surplus to England’s requirements for the last fortnight, would add pace and variety to a back division that has appeared stodgy and sterile in recent weeks.
Andy Goode, a specialist fly-half, has dropped out of the squad to make way for Tait, who can play full-back, wing and outside centre.
Tait’s inclusion, even on the bench, suggests a change in mentality from the England coaches, who realise the need to offer something different in attack.
It also provides England with extra cover at full-back after Argentina exposed winger Ugo Monye as the stand-in that he was.
The only selection decision England are waiting on is over David Wilson, who has been undergoing treatment on a neck and shoulder injury suffered against Australia.
If Wilson fails to recover, Duncan Bell is likely to retain the number three jersey, with Paul Doran-Jones providing cover for both propping positions on the bench.