Toby Flood will start England's opening RBS 6 Nations match against Wales after centre Riki Flutey was ruled out by a thigh injury picked up in training.
Flutey, who missed the autumn Tests through injury, was given until Friday morning to recover but England medical staff ruled out his participation against Wales.
That allows fly-half Flood – who was also sidelined during England’s November fixtures – to be reunited with former Newcastle teammates Jonny Wilkinson and Mathew Tait in the England midfield.
But the withdrawal of Flutey is still a huge blow to England boss Martin Johnson. The British and Irish Lion was in outstanding form for England in last year’s Six Nations and Johnson's misfiring attack was blamed on his absence in the autumn.
Flood is replaced on the bench by Bath’s Shontayne Hape who if he came on would win his first cap and become the latest rugby league convert to pull on the Red Rose shirt.