Jack Nowell in England squad for Italy trip along with uncapped Gary Graham, Alec Hepburn and Nathan Earle

Exeter winger Jack Nowell has retained his place in England’s 25-man squad for their Six Nations opener against Italy on Sunday.

Nowell had been expected to miss the trip to Rome with an ankle injury but coach Eddie Jones said on Tuesday he had made a “miracle recovery” and he has been confirmed as part of the travelling party.

Three uncapped players also keep their place in Newcastle back-rower Gary Graham, Exeter prop Alec Hepburn and Saracens wing Nathan Earle, but there is no place for Bath No 8 Zach Mercer.

Injury doubts Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown and Maro Itoje are also in the party, which will be cut down to a matchday 23-man squad on Friday.

England open their defence against the Azzurri at the Stadio Olimpico without Billy Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Elliot Daly and Henry Slade through injury.

Prop Joe Marler and flanker James Haskell are also ruled out by suspension but have been training with Jones’ squad.

Squad:
Backs: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Nathan Earle (Saracens), Jonny May (Leicester), Anthony Watson (Bath), Danny Care (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Leicester), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Jack Nowell (Exeter). Ben Te’o (Worcester), Ben Youngs (Leicester).

Forwards: Gary Graham (Newcastle), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Sam Simmonds (Exeter), Sam Underhill (Bath), Dan Cole (Leicester), Jamie George (Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Alec Hepburn (Exeter), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter)

Source.