British & Irish Lions
Englishmen set for Lions heartbreak?
ESPN Staff
April 21, 2013
Brothers Ben Youngs and Tom Youngs sing the English national anthem together, England v Fiji, Twickenham Stadium, London, England, November 10, 2012
Ben and Tom Youngs are still in the Lions mix, according to reports © PA Photos

British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland could be set to pick the least number of English players for his squad since the 1977 tour.

In 1977 the Lions took just five Englishmen to New Zealand - Peter Squires, Peter Wheeler, Fran Cotton, Nigel Horton and Tony Neary - and according to reports in the Sunday Times, Gatland, who is yet to finalise his squad, could include just six or seven England players to Australia.

While the likes of Christian Wade and Chris Ashton are still in the frame, reports suggest that the only definite Englishmen on Lions duty come the summer are Leicester's Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Ben Youngs, Tom Youngs, Manu Tuilagi and Saracens' Owen Farrell. Tigers and England lock Geoff Parling is also in the mix for a place in the squad.

Harlequins and England skipper Chris Robshaw is still in the frame with the Sunday Times report claiming: "They would like to take him for his honesty and leadership but he is not deemed fast enough to take on Australia in his normal England position as openside flanker."

Gatland will confirm his final squad on April 30 with it seeming likely he will name a tour party of between 35 and 39 personnel. If he does opt to name just a handful of England players, then it will be a far cry from 2005 when Sir Clive Woodward took 20 Englishmen on their tour of New Zealand.

And the Rugby Paper claims despite a leading bookmaker suspending odds on Sam Warburton being named the Lions' captain, this is yet to be confirmed with Jamie Heaslip, Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll also in the mix.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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