Warriors centre Greg King and scrum-half Johnny Arr start on the bench as England build towards the U19 World Championships, in Belfast.
"I'm delighted for Matt and hope that Johnny and Greg will join him on the pitch at some point," says academy manager Andrew Stanley. "Although he won a cap for the U19s last year, in addition to his England U18 caps, his representative journey started by playing for Worcestershire U18 and then working his way up through the North Midlands and Midlands trials. So it's great to see him back as the guy in the pound seats.
"Warriors supporters who've seen him play for the Academy and the A team this year will know what a contribution he's made for Worcester. Now he has to transfer that on to the international stage."
England head coach Nigel Redman is equally pleased with the signs coming out of this week's training sessions.
"Italy scored more points against us last year than any other team," he says. "They're passionate about the scrum and have the flair and skill levels to cause us problems. We've got to be very careful.
"But this group are training well and they've worked very hard. I hope to see an edge to the way they play individually and collectively, and to see if they can put our attacking framework into practice against good opposition."
England will be able to use up to seven of the replacements. They go on to play Wales on Friday, March 2, at Aberavon (7.15) and France on Saturday, March 24, at Henley (4pm) before heading for Belfast, where they meet Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand in the pool stages.
Team: 01 Jack Steadman (Bristol Rugby), 02 Joe Williams (Cinderford), 03 Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby), 04 Greg Gillanders (Leicester Tigers), 05 Ben Thomas (Saracens), 06 Matthew Cox (Worcester), 07 Andy Saull (Saracens), 08 Hugo Ellis (captain, London Wasps), 09 Richard Bolt (Exeter Chiefs), 10 Adam Greendale (Hymers College & Leeds Tykes), 11 David Smith (Northampton Saints), 12 Gareth Griffiths (Bristol Rugby), 13 Tom Bedford (Exeter Chiefs), 14 Noah Cato (Saracens), 15 Alex Tait (vice-captain, Newcastle Falcons)
Replacements: 16 Scott Freer (Leeds Tykes), 17 Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), 18 Billy Moss (Bath Rugby), 19 Scott Hobson (Cornish Pirates), 20 Jon Fisher (Wellington College & London Irish), 21 Garth Dew (Sale Sharks), 22 Johnny Arr (Worcester), 23 Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons), 24 David Howells (London Irish), 25 Greg King (Worcester), 26 Alex Goode (Saracens)