Croft in; Farrell out

Mon, 04 Mar 2013 20:46
Large tom croft lions scrum Large owen farrell england Large tom croft on stretcher Large owen farrell kicks Large tom croft leicester

Leicester flank Tom Croft was added to England's training squad, while Owen Farrell is set to miss the encounter with Italy.

Leicester flank Tom Croft was added to England's training squad on Monday ahead of this weekend's Six Nations fixture against Italy, while Owen Farrell is set to miss the Twickenham clash.

Croft has recovered from a serious neck injury which initially looked set to keep him out for the entire Six Nations campaign and, after playing in last weekend's win over Sale, England coach Stuart Lancaster has opted to call up the 27-year-old.

Last April Croft damaged his neck while tackling Harlequins back row Nick Easter and his comeback, which began in January, has been carefully managed since.

The turning point in his rehabilitation came last week when a visit to the specialist revealed the injury had healed completely.

"Tom has been seen by a specialist, played back-to-back games and played 80 minutes at the weekend and did extremely well," said Lancaster, whose side are chasing a first Grand Slam since 2003.

"In consultation with the medical teams and [Leicester Director of Rugby] Richard Cockerill, we've brought him back into the camp. He's available for Italy and Wales.

"It was never a selection decision, always a medical one, making sure he's right physically to come back and play at international level.

"One of the key markers was playing back to back games. That box was ticked when he played 80 minutes on the weekend and played outstandingly well.

"As soon as he was available, we definitely wanted to bring him back into camp and make him available for selection.

"It's great to have him back. He's a British and Irish Lion from 2009 and you saw from his performance at the weekend that he's in form."

Croft, who played all five of last year's Six Nations matches, has 36 caps for England and Lancaster believes his experience could be vital in the final two matches of the tournament.

"Tom is one of our most experienced players who has played at the highest level," Lancaster said.

"When we go back to the Six Nations last year he was outstanding and was a key leader as well as player. He brings a lot.

"It was a serious injury that forced him to miss the South Africa tour, the year-end internationals and now three Six Nations games. He's worked extremely hard to get back to fitness and into contention."

However, Croft's promotion is offset by the loss of Farrell, who was unable to recover from the thigh strain sustained against France, meaning Toby Flood will start against Italy.

"Owen's still got the quad injury which I want to make sure has settled down completely. It's fair to say that you can read into that that Toby Flood will be starting," Lancaster said.

Although he is likely to miss the Italy clash, Lancaster revealed Farrell could return from the injury against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on March 16.

Flood will resume in the number 10 jersey against Italy with Freddie Burns in line to feature on the bench, but number eight Ben Morgan's chances of participating are receding due to his ankle problem.

"Ben and Owen are both unlikely to be available for the game. Ben's still on his return to running program," Lancaster said.

"Owen's still got that quad injury that I want to make sure that has settled down completely.

"You can read into that that Toby Flood will be starting, it's fair to say.

"We're pretty confident that Owen will be fit for next week.

England No.8 Billy Vunipola is expected to train this week after recovering from an ankle problem, but Lancaster doesn't plan to make major changes to his starting line-up.

"There won't be hundreds of changes, we'll keep consistency in selection," he said.

AFP

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 February 2017
Highlanders v Chiefs 06h35 Dunedin
Reds v Sharks 09h00 Brisbane
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 17h45 Twickenham Stoop
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 19h05 Myreside
Dragons v Leinster 19h30 Rodney Parade
Munster v Scarlets 19h35 Thomond Park
Sat, 25 February 2017
Sunwolves v Hurricanes 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Brumbies 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Force 08h45 Allianz Park
Saracens v Sale Sharks 12h45 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Franklin's Gardens
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons 13h00 Sandy Park
Cheetahs v Lions 13h05 Bloemfontein
Scotland v Wales 14h25 BT Murrayfield
Kings v Jaguares 15h15 Port Elizabeth
Ireland v France 16h50 Aviva Stadium
Stormers v Bulls 17h30 Cape Town
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke 17h00 Bloemfontein
RESULT SCORE
Thu, 23 February 2017
Rebels v Blues 18 | 56
Tue, 21 February 2017
CUT-Ixias v Shimlas 13 | 22
Mon, 20 February 2017
UJ v UP-Tuks 18 | 11
UKZN-Impi v Fort Hare 16 | 10
Maties v NMMU-Madibaz 35 | 16
UWC v Rhodes 88 | 8
TUT v WSU 13 | 17
NWU-Pukke v UCT-Ikeys 20 | 15
Sun, 19 February 2017
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 46 | 31
Sale Sharks v Wasps 34 | 28
Sat, 18 February 2017
Connacht v Dragons 14 | 9
Ospreys v Munster 23 | 25
Leicester Tigers v Bristol 50 | 17
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 37 | 17
Bath v Harlequins 22 | 12
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 2 2 0 0 8
Ireland 2 1 0 1 6
Wales 2 1 0 1 5
France 2 1 0 1 5
Scotland 2 1 0 1 5
Italy 2 0 0 2 0