England recall Croft but Farrell unfit for Italy

Stuart Lancaster has called Tom Croft into the England squad ahead of the game against Italy this weekend after the Leicester flanker proved his fitness with a barnstorming performance against Sale at the weekend.

Croft will be joined in the squad by Freddie Burns and Billy Vunipola who have both been declared fit for action against the Azzurri. Burns is likely to be challenging for a place on the bench after Lancaster announced that Owen Farrell will not have recovered from his quadriceps injury in time to play Italy.

Lancaster added: “you can read into that that Toby Flood will start against Italy”.

It will be Flood’s first start of the Six Nations as Owen Farrell has really nailed down the number 10 shirt as his own after a couple of excellent performances against Scotland and Ireland.

Ben Morgan has also been declared unfit to play against Italy but is expected to be fit for England’s potential Grand Slam match, should they beat Italy, against Wales.

Scotland have also made some changes to their squad ahead of this weekend’s clash with Wales. Euan Murray and Alasdair Strokosch are both recalled to the squad, Murray missed out last week due to his decision not play on Sundays, while Strokosch was injured early on against England on the opening weekend.

David Denton has meanwhile had to pull out of the squad with a knee ligament injury, Denton has come off the bench in each of Scotland’s three games so far but has been replaced in the squad by Glasgow number 8 Ryan Wilson, who captained the A side to victory against the England Saxons last month.

Declan Kidney has left Ronan O’Gara out of his extended squad to play France on Saturday.

O’Gara, who has 128 Irish caps, is one of Ireland’s all time greats but poor performances off the bench against England and Scotland, and poor form for Munster, look to have spelled the end of his wonderful career.

Extended England Squad:

Chris Ashton (Saracens) Brad Barritt (Saracens) Mouritz Botha (Saracens) Mike Brown (Harlequins) Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby) Danny Care (Harlequins) Calum Clark (Northampton Saints) Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers) Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers) Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints) Alex Corbisiero (London Irish) Owen Farrell (Saracens) Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers) Ben Foden (Northampton Saints) Alex Goode (Saracens) Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) James Haskell (London Wasps) Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors) Joe Launchbury (London Wasps) Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) Joe Marler (Harlequins) Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby) Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers) Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) David Strettle (Saracens) Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks) Joel Tomkins (Saracens) Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby) Mako Vunipola (Saracens) Billy Vunipola (London Wasps) David Wilson (Bath Rugby) Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers) Tom Wood (Northampton Saints) Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

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