England v France, Six Nations, Twickenham, February 26
Croft reluctant to rush England return
February 20, 2011
Tom Croft suffered his injury in England's final November international, against South Africa © Getty Images
Fit-again Leicester flanker Tom Croft has intimated that he would not welcome an England call-up for next weekend's crunch Six Nations clash with France at Twickenham.
Croft missed the opening two rounds of this year's Championship with a shoulder injury sustained against South Africa last November. However, he made his return to competitive action on Saturday, playing the final 21 minutes of Leicester's victory over Wasps at Welford Road.
That prompted speculation that England boss Martin Johnson might thrust Croft right back into his starting line-up for the visit of Les Bleus next Saturday. However, Croft does not feel that he is ready for an immediate return to Test rugby.
"My focus now is playing for Leicester," the British & Irish Lions star said. "I got 20 minutes in this game and hopefully I can have more game time next week and get back to fitness and into the swing of things, just get back into the Leicester way of things and go from there.
"Martin Johnson kept tabs on me to see how I was doing but the England team are going well and have had two great wins from two games. Tom Wood has come into the team and played extremely well, (James) Haskell has played well and the back row have functioned well.
"As far as I am concerned what makes me happy is playing for Leicester, I would feel nervous if I was called up (for England) after just 25 minutes. I just need to get back playing regularly."
However, Croft, who has been capped 22 times by his country, admitted that he is desperate to play his part in England's Grand Slam bid, having been sidelined for the impressive wins over Wales and Italy.
"I was at the Italy game, but it is hard to watch. The team are playing well and scoring tries and you want to be out there, but that just gives you more encouragement to do that little bit extra to be back involved," he said.
"It's been very frustrating. I thought I would be back a lot sooner but small things push you back that extra week. But we have great medical staff at Leicester, who have got me back strong enough to play and I did not feel it at all during the game.
"It's great to be back. It's been a long time since I last played and I was away with England before that. So it's good to be back in Leicester colours and on a winning side."
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