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Published: 13:23 | 25/2/16

Two debutants for Ireland

Van der Flier and McCloskey to start

Josh van der Flier and Stuart McCloskey are to make their Test debuts for Ireland in Saturday's RBS Six Nations showdown with England at Twickenham.

Having picked up just one point in their opening two games, Ireland's hopes of a third successive Six Nations crown look to be all but over, allowing head coach Joe Schmidt to try out new players in the remaining three games.

Although he intimated he would give less familiar faces game time, Schmidt's hand has been somewhat forced by the hamstring injury which Jared Payne sustained in the defeat to France.

Payne's injury paves the way for McCloskey to make his Test debut at inside centre, with Robbie Henshaw moving to outside centre.

Rob Kearney is retained at full-back as Keith Earls returns on the left wing for the injured Dave Kearney. Andrew Trimble is named on the right wing.

Johnny Sexton was forced off against France with a whiplash injury before rolling over on his ankle at last Friday's open training session in Mullingar, but the Leinster man is fit to join Conor Murray in the half-backs.

Van der Flier has improved for Leinster this season, starting ten games for the province, and his good form sees him earn his first start for Ireland. He starts at openside alongside CJ Stander and Jamie Heaslip.

Leinster prop Mike Ross comes into the front row to join Jack McGrath and Rory Best, while Donnacha Ryan locks down with Devin Toner in the second row.

Ireland (XV v England): R Kearney; A Trimble, R Henshaw, S McCloskey, K Earls; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best, M Ross, D Ryan, D Toner, CJ Stander, J van der Flier, J Heaslip.

Replacements: R Strauss, C Healy, N White, U Dillane, R Ruddock, E Reddan, I Madigan, S Zebo.

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