Six Nations
Johnson hopeful on Lawes and Croft
ESPNscrum Staff
January 12, 2011
England lock Louis Deacon bursts clear, Scotland v England, Six Nations, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland, March 13, 2010
Louis Deacon has won an England recall © Getty Images

England manager Martin Johnson has held fire on announcing injury replacements for Courtney Lawes and Tom Croft in his 33-man Elite Player Squad for the Six Nations and is hopeful that the duo will be fit to play some part in the tournament.

Lawes was on Tuesday ruled out for up to three months with a knee ligament injury while Croft is sidelined thanks to a broken shoulder suffered in England's November loss to South Africa at Twickenham.

Johnson is set to confirm the injury replacements before England head to Portugal for their warm-weather training in the last week of January. They begin their campaign against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on February 4.

"Tom and Courtney both have a chance of playing rugby by the end of the tournament," Johnson said. "Tom is making good progress with the Leicester medics and our guys and it is the same with Courtney, so they are both week to week and hopefully they will be fitter sooner rather than later and make the end of the tournament.

"Courtney saw the specialist last night and, like in all these things, straight after the injury they take an image and interpret that. I would love him to be out for just six weeks, it may be 10 weeks but it is probably going to be eight or nine weeks. These things can change week by week."

There are three new faces in the squad, where Leicester lock Louis Deacon wins a recall alongside Saracens-bound fly-half Charlie Hodgson and uncapped Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson.

Deacon has been drafted in as a replacement for Gloucester lock Dave Attwood, who has been demoted to the Saxons panel after being handed a nine-week ban for stamping in a recent Amlin Challenge Cup meeting with French side La Rochelle.

"He [Attwood] is a bright lad and it is pretty obvious he has damaged his opportunity," Johnson said. "You take yourself out of the running for nine weeks it can be tough. There would have been an opportunity for him to be involved.

"It is a chance for him to get in the best possible shape, come back fresh, ready to go and have a blast for the last two-and-a-half months of the season and put himself in contention for the World Cup camp. With Louis' form, bringing him back in was an easy decision to make."

The Saxons squad includes Leicester fly-half Billy Twelvetrees, Northampton centre Jon Clarke and Saints lock Christian Day plus Harlequins prop Joe Marler and Sale loose-forward James Gaskell.

England's 33-man elite player squad for the Six Nations:

Forwards: George Chuter (Leicester Tigers), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Paul Doran-Jones (Gloucester), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Hendre Fourie (Leeds Carnegie), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Stade Francais), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Lewis Moody (Bath Rugby), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Tim Payne (London Wasps), Simon Shaw (London Wasps), Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Steve Thompson (Leeds Carnegie), David Wilson (Bath Rugby), Joe Worsley (London Wasps).

Backs: Delon Armitage (London Irish), Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby), Danny Care (Harlequins), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Riki Flutey (London Wasps), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Shontayne Hape (Bath Rugby), Charlie Hodgson (Sale Sharks), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), David Strettle (Saracens), Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

England Saxons squad for games against Italy 'A' and the Irish Wolfhounds:

Forwards: Steffon Armitage (London Irish), David Attwood (Gloucester Rugby), Duncan Bell (Bath Rugby), Steve Borthwick (Saracens), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers), Christian Day (Northampton Saints), Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints), James Gaskell (Sale Sharks), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Lee Mears (Bath Rugby), Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors), Luke Narraway (Gloucester Rugby), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Andrew Saull (Saracens), Dan Ward-Smith (London Wasps), Rob Webber (London Wasps), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints).

Backs: Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby), Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Jon Clarke (Northampton Saints), Alex Goode (Saracens), Dan Hipkiss (Leicester Tigers), Paul Hodgson (London Irish), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints), James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester Rugby), Mathew Tait (Sale Sharks), Billy Twelvetrees (Leicester Tigers), Dominic Waldouck (London Wasps), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)

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