England A play Portugal this weekend in Leicester, and the team to play the Iberian side has been named,

The England A team to face Portugal on Sunday at Mattioli Woods Welford Road has been confirmed in the first game for the second-string side since the RFU announced its return to bolster the pathway.

Bath’s 30-cap international Charlie Ewels captains an exciting side from the second row but there was no place in the matchday squad for Leicester Tigers wing Ollie Hassell-Collins.

Related: Skivington to coach England A against Portugal

The former London Irish man was not selected to play or as an option off the bench, with Cadan Murley and Will Muir being preferred for the task against a weakened Portugal who are missing their French club stars.

Hassell-Collins has two caps for England at Test level, and was a starter for Steve Borthwick at the beginning of last year’s Six Nations, but the 25-year-old will clearly need to continue performing well at club level to get another opportunity.

Exeter Chiefs full-back Josh Hodge completes the back three while a full England international did get the nod at scrum half, with Harry Randall occupying the number nine jersey, where he is partnered by Charlie Atkinson at fly half.

Max Ojomoh and Oscar Beard are the centre pairing. Ewels is joined here by Chiefs prospect Rusiate Tuima in the engine room.

The Portuguese will have their scrum tested by props Fin Baxter and Joe Heyes while Newcastle Falcons’ Jamie Blamire will start at hooker.

Blamire’s club-mate Guy Pepper starts at seven, while Tom Pearson and Alfie Barbeary round out the back row for the England A team to play start against Portugal.

Head coach Geroge Skivington can’t wait to unleash his side against the Rugby Europe Championship semi-finalists this weekend.

He said: “Our visitors are in the midst of the Rugby Europe Championship and will no doubt be using Sunday as an opportunity to experiment, but their strength as a union has been evident recently. They will certainly provide a stern test for us, but it’s a test that the players, Dom (Waldouck), Sam (Vesty) and I are relishing.

“”I am really excited to see the side take to the field against Portugal on Sunday. I really believe we have assembled a squad that possesses some of the most exciting developing talent the Gallagher Premiership has to offer, and I’m sure they’ll put on a show for the fans in Leicester.”

England A team to play Portugal

15 Josh Hodge (Exeter Chiefs), 14 Cadan Murley (Harlequins), 13 Oscar Beard (Harlequins), 12 Max Ojomoh (Bath Rugby), 11 Will Muir (Bath Rugby), 10 Charlie Atkinson (Gloucester), 9 Harry Randall (Bristol Bears); 1 Fin Baxter (Harlequins), 2 Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons), 3 Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers), 4 Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs), 5 Charlie Ewels (captain, Bath Rugby), 6 Tom Pearson (Northampton Saints), 7 Guy Pepper (Newcastle Falcons), 8 Alfie Barbeary (Bath Rugby)

Replacements: 16 Sam Riley (Harlequins), 17 Tarek Haffar (Northampton Saints), 18 Josh Iosefa-Scott (Exeter Chiefs), 19 Ben Bamber (Sale Sharks), 20 Greg Fisilau (Exeter Chiefs), 21 Caolan Englefield (Gloucester), 22 Jamie Shillcock (Leicester Tigers), 23 Oliver Hartley (Saracens)

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on FacebookInstagram and Twitter/X.