Eddie Jones insists flanker Tom Wood has reclaimed his place in England’s squad after shedding his “sense of entitlement”.
But the head coach hinted Teimana Harrison is the preferred option at openside for the Old Mutual Series that opens against South Africa next month.
Wood has been included among the 33 players named for the autumn internationals after profiting from the injury crisis that has seen six players ruled out of contention to fill a long-standing problem position.
The 29-year-old’s international career appeared to be over after revealing in January that Jones had told him he was “distinctly average” and lacked the world-class work-rate demanded of a six.
Jones disputes saying the remark and has since revised his opinion of Wood after sensing the Northampton captain had grown complacent during Stuart Lancaster’s regime.
“That’s not something I say. He has obviously got a vivid memory. I might have said he had no standout parts of his game,” Jones said.
“The standout part of his game now is his work-rate. He has an incredible work-rate and he brings that to the table. I think he has gone back and looked at his game.
“Maybe he was comfortable, maybe he felt there was a sense of entitlement about him being in the England side.
“What I like about him – and we have had a number of other players do it – he has gone back and looked at himself and found ways to improve himself.
“His work off the ball is a lot better. He’s got a bit more dynamism to his ball-carrying which, previously, he didn’t have.
“His lineout work has always been good and obviously the injuries have presented an opportunity, so it’s a combination of him improving and the injuries.”
Kyle Sinckler has been on the periphery of the squad since 2014, but the Harlequin is one of only two tighthead props among the 33 after displacing Paul Hill and is set to make his debut off the bench against the Springboks on November 12.
Leeds-born scrum-half Danny Care is once again in the squad, along with another former Carnegie player in Alex Lozowski.
Lozowski was spotted by Leeds playing at university and fast-tracked into their first team for a British and Irish Cup game. He was awarded a contract for the 2013-14 season.
He made 25 appearances and won the club’s young player of the year award at Headingley before signing for Wasps later that summer.
England squad – Forwards: D Attwood (Bath), D Cole (Leicester), C Ewels (Bath), E Genge (Leicester), J George (Saracens), T Harrison (Northampton), D Hartley (Northampton), N Hughes (Wasps), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), J Marler (Harlequins), B Morgan (Gloucester), C Robshaw (Harlequins), K Sinckler (Harlequins), T Taylor (Wasps), B Vunipola (Saracens), M Vunipola (Saracens), T Wood (Northampton).
Backs: M Brown (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), E Daly (Wasps), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Bath), A Goode (Saracens), M Haley (Sale), J Joseph (Bath), A Lozowski (Saracens), J May (Gloucester), S Rokoduguni (Bath), H Slade (Exeter), B Te’o (Worcester), M Yarde (Harlequins), B Youngs (Leicester).