England and London Irish rugby flanker Steffon Armitage

Steffon Armitage will make his England Sevens debut in this weekend’s Emirates Airline London Sevens.

The London Irish flanker’s call-up is the only change to the squad as England continue their chase for a first ever HSBC Sevens World Series title at Twickenham Stadium.

Armitage, 25, has international pedigree after winning five Test caps for Martin Johnson’s senior side, the last coming against Italy in the 2010 RBS 6 Nations. He toured with England last summer scoring a try against New Zealand Maori in Napier.

He was drafted into the squad in place of Greg Barden (Royal Navy) who has a neck injury that forces him out of London and the Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens on May 28-29.

Ryan said: “It’s a shame that Greg Barden won’t be available for the next two tournaments after he was injured in this seasons inter-services games and that’s why Steffon’s coming into the side.

Armitage can dominate at the breakdown – Ryan

England Sevens head coach Ben Ryan is aiming at a London title to keep up the pressure on New Zealand

“He brings a lot of international experience and he has a world class ability to stay on his feet, win turnovers and dominate the breakdown, which gives us another layer of expertise and makes him the ideal replacement for Greg.”

England, already on course for a best ever points tally in the 12-year history of the series, trail New Zealand by 13 points going into the final two tournaments.

But Ryan acknowledges that they have to win in London to keep their title hopes alive for another week.

Another member of England’s original 14-man training group, Simon Hunt (Birmingham Solihull), misses the tournament following the hand damage he sustained in a warm-up game 10 days ago.

Uncapped London Irish wing Sam Edgerley remains with the group as cover.

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