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Leicester 15:00 London Irish

Richard Cockerill: Tom Croft ready for England and Lions duty

Last Updated: 02/03/13 10:02pm

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Tom Croft in action against Sale

Tom Croft in action against Sale

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Leicester boss Richard Cockerill says flanker Tom Croft is ready for England duty after his superb display against Sale.

Croft, making just his fifth start this season since returning on January 4 from a neck operation, was at the heart of almost everything as the Tigers won 48-10.

It was the first time the Lions star has played back-to-back games this term too, but Cockerill says he is fit enough to feature in England's Six Nations run-in if required.

He said: "He is a good enough player to go and play. He has played two full games now and if England needed him I'm sure he would be ready to go and do a job.

"Tom's attitude has been outstanding and he has used the time when he has not been playing to deal with his contact work and his conditioning.

"With 15 minutes to go he was wanting a bit of oxygen but he works to the maximum all the time."

Asked whether Croft could make the Lions tour, Cockerill said: "It depends how we play to the end of the season.

"If we keep ourselves in the play-off mix and we go to Toulon (in the Heineken Cup) and Tom is outstanding in that company, there is an opportunity for him to go on the Lions tour.

"He is a good enough player to go and play. He has played two full games now and if England needed him I'm sure he would be ready to go and do a job."
Richard Cockerill

"I'd have no hesitation in saying that Tom is ready to go and play a Test match next week. He has worked really hard and been patient and we are now getting the rewards."

Warning

Sale boss Steve Diamond warned his side that they will be relegated unless they improve.

He said: "We are really disappointed with the performance. We came here with what we thought was a competitive side and were drilled. I don't know why. Sometimes it happens. We have to look at ourselves and regroup.

"We have to win two or three games and put in better performances than today, otherwise our position will be justified.

"We have been in the Premiership since it began and we want that to continue. We will fight tooth and nail."

Sale may be thrown a lifeline if London Welsh are deducted points for fielding an ineligible player at a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday.

Diamond said: "All the sides understand the severity of what is happening. Due process will take care of that on Tuesday. It's out of our hands. But if we play like we did today we won't win another game."

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