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Croft suffers fractured shoulder
Flanker a doubt for Englands opening Six Nations match
Posted Nov 29, 2010 by Jeff Dawson
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England’s defeat to South Africa at the weekend has been made worse by the news that flanker Tom Croft suffered a fractured right shoulder during the 21-11 defeat at Twickenham.
The injury means 25-year-old Croft, a former Oakham Schoolboy, is likely to miss Leicester Tigers’s upcoming Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup matches against London Irish and Perpignan respectively.
However, it is hoped that he will make England’s opening Six Nations fixtures against Wales on February 4th next year. Croft spent the night in hospital and will be reassessed later this week.
This is a massive dent to Tigers’s resurgence and to England’s preparations as Croft has made himself one of the key men in the pack at both club and country level. The 6ft 5in star has been key to England at the lineout, an area of the team that struggles when Croft isn’t on the pitch, and the breakdown and he has to be nailed on for the number six shirt come the World Cup in New Zealand in September next year.
Many fans are already considering a Six Nations campaign without Croft in the starting XV and most are tipping one of Robshaw, Haskell, Worsley, Dowson or Tom Wood.
The most difficult area for England manager Martin Johnson to replace is the athleticism that Croft brings to the team and the only one of these four that gets close to that part of his game is Robshaw. But there are question marks over his ability at the top level.
Tom Wood is the other logical replacement as, despite playing at number 7 this season, he is the closest thing England have for a like-for-like replacement. Wood is of a similar build, is of a similar standard in the lineout and was called into the squad to cover for Lewis Moody previously so he’s clearly in Johnson’s thoughts.
It’s going to be a tough decision for Johnson but the one thing he needs to be sure of is that he doesn’t bring Croft back in too soon as shoulders have a habit of being a difficult injury to fix.