Gareth Widdop and Jake Connor absent from England’s “prospective Ashes candidates”

Gareth Widdop has been left out of a 31-man list of players invited to a gathering with new England head coach Shaun Wane later this month.

Warrington’s marquee halfback, a mainstay in the England side for almost a decade, is the notable absentee from a list of “prospective Ashes candidates” named ahead of this year’s Ashes Test series.

He is one of several notable absentees, with Jake Connor and Ryan Hall also not included.

Among the 31 players are Leeds’ young centre Harry Newman and Wigan winger Dom Manfredi after he returned to action last month.

Paul McShane and Josh Griffin, who have both been touted for call-ups, have earned a place on Wane’s watch list, who will all get together at Old Trafford on March 23rd.

There’s no space for Australians Jackson Hastings and Blake Austin, who both featured on the Great Britain tour.

Mike Cooper, Liam Farrell and Zak Hardaker are also named despite not being in last year’s performance squad.

Meanwhile, four players who featured for England Knights last year are included, with Niall Evalds, Josh Jones, Manfredi and Newman all included.

NRL-based players John Bateman, Josh Hodgson, Ryan Sutton, Elliott Whitehead George Williams, Tom Burgess, James Graham and Kallum Watkins are also included on a separate list.

“It’s too early to be selecting Ashes squads,” Wane said.

“A lot can happen between now and the end of the season – but I’ve invited a group of players who are uppermost in my thoughts right now. I want to tell them that face-to-face and share with them my plans for the rest of the year.

“There are some very talented players, both in Super League and the NRL, and I’ll be monitoring their progress, week in, week out. I’m very excited about the prospect of working with them and the players who most impress will be the ones selected for the Ashes series.

“I realise that there are some notable exceptions at this stage, and I would say to those players is that this isn’t the squad, the door is never closed and outstanding form will be rewarded.”

Old Trafford: Senior invites

Josh Charnley (Warrington Wolves)
Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves)
Mike Cooper (Warrington Wolves)
Ben Currie (Warrington Wolves)
Niall Evalds (Salford Red Devils)
Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors)
Luke Gale (Leeds Rhinos)
Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors)
Josh Griffin (Hull FC)
Zak Hardaker (Wigan Warriors)
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves)
Jack Hughes (Warrington Wolves)
Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity)
Josh Jones (Hull FC)
Jonny Lomax (St Helens)
Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity)
Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants)
Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers)
Tommy Makinson (St Helens)
Dom Manfredi (Wigan Warriors)
Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos)
Mark Percival (St Helens)
Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves)
Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves)
James Roby (St Helens)
Dan Sarginson (Salford Red Devils)
Scott Taylor (Hull FC)
Luke Thompson (St Helens)
Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons)
Alex Walmsley (St Helens)
Liam Watts (Castleford Tigers)