Matt Stevens set for England's World Cup training squad

Matt Stevens is set to continue his remarkable comeback from a two-year drugs ban by being named in England's World Cup training squad tomorrow.

Since returning to the fold in late January, Saracens prop Stevens has not been on a losing team, either for newly-crowned Aviva Premiership champions Saracens or at representative level with England Saxons. And after reeling off three influential displays for the Saxons during their successful campaign in what was the final Churchill Cup, a senior squad recall now beckons.

Stevens won the last of his 32 England caps in November 2008, but a lengthy suspension imposed for cocaine use then saw him banished to the sporting wilderness. "Because I've played for England before, I know exactly the honour and esteem that goes with it," he said, following Saxons' 37-6 victory over Canada at Worcester that meant they lifted the Churchill Cup for a sixth time in nine seasons.

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"I am very keen. I will work as hard as I can and see what happens. It has been a tough five months, but it is just week on week for me now. There is a lot of room for improvement, I know that, but I am happy with the way things are going."

Stevens relished the Saxons environment, and he will be the headline promotion by senior boss Martin Johnson from a squad that racked up 165 points and 23 tries in three games.

"Week on week, we have improved as a group of players," added the 28-year-old. "I think there are definitely a lot of (Saxons) players who have put their hands up for selection in the future."

Saxons head coach Stuart Lancaster has no doubt about the impact Stevens made on a team that benefited enormously from his immense scrummaging power and work in the loose. "Matt has been outstanding," said Lancaster.

Johnson's squad of 45 will include all the familiar faces responsible for England's RBS Six Nations title triumph earlier this year. But there are likely to be some interesting additions, with the so-called foreign legion possibly out in force. Leicester's Samoa-born centre Manu Tuilagi, who completes a suspension on Thursday for punching Northampton and England wing Chris Ashton during a feisty Premiership play-off clash at Welford Road in May, can expect the call from Johnson.

Tuilagi's Tigers team-mate Thomas Waldrom, born in New Zealand but who has an English grandmother, is another strong contender, along with two of Saracens' South Africa-born contingent, centre Brad Barritt and lock Mouritz Botha.

It will be fascinating to see whether or not Johnson finds a place for ex-England captain Steve Borthwick, who led Saracens to title glory just three weeks ago.Second-row Borthwick has not featured for England since last year's Six Nations when he suffered a knee injury and was omitted from the elite player squad announced by Johnson in July.

England will face World Cup warm-up Tests against Wales (home and away) and Ireland in August.

The decision to end the Churchill Cup was taken jointly by the Rugby Football Union, USA Rugby and Rugby Canada, in consultation with the IRB

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