English Rugby
Croft unlikely to play in November Tests
ESPN Staff
October 2, 2012
Tom Croft on his return from injury
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Leicester Tigers back-row Tom Croft has played down any chance of him turning out for England during the November Tests.

Croft has been sidelined since April with a neck injury that he suffered while playing for the Tigers. And while his rehabilitation has stepped up a level in the past couple of weeks, he is yet to return to full training.

Leicester have suffered two retirements in their back-row this season with Craig Newby and Ben Woods both forced into prematurely calling time on their careers. That, coupled with Croft's injury and Jordan Crane's prolonged return from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, prompted Tigers boss Richard Cockerill to bring in Richard Thorpe, Michael Noone, Wessel Jooste and Brett Deacon.

Croft is in the frame for the British & Irish Lions ahead of their trip to Australia this summer having shone for the select side on their tour of South Africa back in 2009, but he will have to prove his fitness to Lions boss Warren Gatland. And this will start with the Tigers rather than on the international stage. England face Fiji on November 10 but Stuart Lancaster is likely to look elsewhere for options at blindside - James Haskell, Tom Wood and Tom Johnson are likely to be in the mix - leaving Croft to focus on readjusting to the pace of the game with the Tigers

"I'm on track of where I'd hope to be at this time," Croft said. "We are still a little way off but it is just part of being a rugby player. It is frustrating at the moment watching the boys on the pitch, gearing towards a game at the end of each week and I'm stuck at the gym.

"It would be nice to get back fit and actually have something to train for at the end of the week. At the moment I am basically avoiding contact as much as possible.

"I missed the summer tour and that was a very frustrating time in my career but there are silver linings you can take. It could be a lot worse and it gives me the chance to get my body back in some sort of decent nick and hit the ground running when I come back. England is not a concern of mine at the moment, my concern is getting back for Leicester and back playing well."

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