Julian Salvi believes England are missing a trick by constantly overlooking the talents of in-form Wasps back-rower Guy Thompson.
England’s lack of a genuine openside has come under intense scrutiny in wake of their defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield.
And the Exeter star Salvi told The Rugby Paper: “Coaches don’t like being told what to do, but given the way I play, my focus would always be on having a genuine No.7 in the side – a grafter who gets over the ball and gets the job done.
“It’s a question of balance and Scotland showed what can be achieved, but for whatever reason, England have been slow to do it. I guess the question is do you want to do it now, before a World Cup, or wait a bit longer and go with what you have?
“I think there’s enough talent in England to be implementing that now and Sam Underhill, in terms of his hitting power and staying strong over the ball, is one who can put collisions in that can be quite effective while getting over the ball as well.
“Jack Willis at Wasps also looks like a nice No.7 prospect, but one I think they should look at who’s never had a chance is his Wasps colleague Guy Thompson.
“He’s a bit older but he’s very good in the carry, makes good metres and also has that great ability over the ball to slow the opposition down. It’s only my perspective, but that’s the kind of openside England need to compete against the best.”