Tom Wood has been recalled for England's autumn series to make his first appearance in the national squad since being jettisoned after the World Cup.
Head coach Eddie Jones has turned to Wood to combat the injury crisis that has thinned his options at openside to sixth choice after James Haskell, Jack Clifford, Sam Jones, Mike Williams and Maro Itoje were ruled out through injury.
The 29-year-old won the last of 42 caps against Uruguay a year ago and his international career appeared to be over after he revealed in January that Jones had told him he was “distinctly average” and lacked the world-class work-rate demanded of a blindside flanker.
He has been one of Northampton’s few shining lights amid their dismal start to the season, however, and now profits from the injury curse that has swept through English ranks.
“With a number of influential players missing through injury we have two weeks to prepare a robust and resilient team to meet the challenges set for us in the Old Mutual Wealth Series,” Jones said.
There are six uncapped players included in the 33-man squad in prop Kyle Sinckler, back-rower Nathan Hughes, second-rower Charlie Ewels, wing Mike Haley, fly-half Alex Lozowski and centre Ben Te'o.
Ewels is joined among the 33 by Bath colleague Dave Attwood, who returns following injuries to second-rowers George Kruis and Maro Itoje.
Teimana Harrison is included despite Jones last month stating he was unsuitable for the role of openside at this stage in his career and there are three number eights in Hughes, Ben Morgan and Billy Vunipola.
Morgan's Gloucester colleague Jonny May is also present following an injury-ravaged year.
England on Sunday depart for a week-long training camp in Portugal and open their autumn series against South Africa on November 12 with Fiji, Argentina and Australia also visiting Twickenham.
“Our training camp in Portugal is a great opportunity to spend a week together, focus on putting our game plans in place and for new players to understand the England way,” Jones said.
“We’re looking forward to being back in front of a passionate Twickenham crowd and I’m confident we can prepare well and put together a matchday 23 which is full of pride, energy and commitment to give South Africa the game of their lives.”
England’s 33-man squad for November Tests against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina:
Forwards: D Attwood (Bath), D Cole (Leicester), C Ewels (Bath), E Genge (Leicester), J George (Saracens), T Harrison (Northampton), D Hartley (Northampton), N Hughes (Wasps), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), J Marler (Harlequins), B Morgan (Gloucester), C Robshaw (Harlequins), K Sinckler (Harlequins), T Taylor (Wasps), B Vunipola (Saracens), M Vunipola (Saracens), T Wood (Northampton).
Backs: M Brown (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), E Daly (Wasps), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Bath), A Goode (Saracens), M Haley (Sale), J Joseph (Bath), A Lozowski (Saracens), J May (Gloucester), S Rokoduguni (Bath), H Slade (Exeter), B Te'o (Worcester), M Yarde (Harlequins), B Youngs (Leicester).