Pat Sanderson started the current season with many people questioning the wisdom of his move to Premiership newboys Worcester Warriors - he ends it as captain of England.

Admittedly it's not a first-string England side and in club terms at least his gamble has yet to be proved successful, but the 27-year-old's selection for this summer's England squad to play in the Churchill Cup is a fitting accolade for an impressive campaign.

Not only that. He leads a 26-strong group to Canada which contains the most famous rugby player on the planet - Jonny Wilkinson - and in Phil Vickery and Mike Tindall two men who won the World Cup in 2003.

However, the status of the England trio is not absolutely clear. All three were asked by British Lions coach, Sir Clive Woodward, to prove their fitness before June's tour to New Zealand, and especially so in the case of Wilkinson, could be added to Woodward's squad.

But after yesterday's team announcement it is certain that Sanderson, who also skippers the Sixways side, has been handed a way back into the national team.

"I'm overjoyed by the news, just thrilled really," Sanderson said. "It's a wonderful way to start the week," he added in reference to Worcester's relegation decider with Northampton on Saturday.

"With the likes of Andy Gomarsall as vice captain and Mike Tindall on the tour there'll be a lot of experience and support on board. This is a great set of players and the Churchill Cup is a good tour to bring on new talent as well."

With current England coach Andy Robinson away with the Lions the Churchill Cup team will be managed by Robinson's assistant Joe Lydon.

"Joe is a great motivator of men and has been fantastic to be around when he was involved in England Sevens. We're going to Canada to win and anything less would be a disappointment for us."

When he takes to the field wearing the Red Rose it will be his first appearance for the national side since June 2001 and his seventh cap in all.

Omitted from the squad though is Sanderson's Warriors team- mate Chris Horsman which means the tighthead prop will never play for the land of his birth.

Horsman has been training with Wales in recent months, he qualifies through residency in March, and has been tipped to go on the Red Dragons' summer tour of North America.

For his part Robinson has no doubt he is leaving the squad in safe hands. "We're expecting this to be an outstanding group of players and it's an important tour for England.

" When choosing who should captain the side, although a player like Phil Vickery, who has captained England in the past was a consideration along with other candidates, it was felt most appropriate to name Pat Sanderson.

"He has played and captained his club regularly this season and to great effect and he thoroughly deserves to be leading England in June."

England squad for Churchill Cup competition in Edmonton, Canada, June 19-26 Backs: U Monye (Harlequins), P Sackey (Wasps), T Voyce (Wasps), J Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), M Tait (Newcastle), M Tindall (Bath), C Bell (Leeds), J Wilkinson (Newcastle), O Barkley (Bath), A Goode (Leicester), A Gomarsall (Gloucester), P Richards (Wasps).

Forwards: M Worsley (Harlequins), P Freshwater ( Perpignan), P Vickery (Gloucester), W Green (Wasps), G Chuter (Leicester), P Greening (Wasps), L Deacon (Leicester), T Palmer (Leeds), S Hooper (Leeds), C Jones (Sale Sharks), A Hazell (Gloucester), P Sanderson (Worcester, capt), J Forrester (Gloucester), H Vyvyan (Saracens).

Players on stand-by: M Perry (Bath), A Erinle (Wasps), A Higgins (Bath), S Bemand (Leicester), M Shelley (Leeds), M Ward (Newcastle), L Mears (Bath), R Birkett (Wasps), P Dowson (Newcastle).