Injury woe raises question marks over Croft’s World Cup availability

 
Ross McLean
Follow Ross
ENGLAND flanker Tom Croft has emerged as a major doubt for this autumn’s home World Cup after Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill revealed the extent of his latest injury setback.

The 29-year-old dislocated a shoulder during the Tigers’ Premiership victory over Newcastle Falcons earlier this month and faces a race against time to be fit for England’s tournament opener against Fiji at Twickenham on 18 September.

Croft has been capped 41 times by England but has endured an injury-plagued couple of years, having broken his neck in 2012 and missed the majority of last season with a knee injury.

“He has a bit of nerve damage as well. We hope it is as quick as possible but it’s likely to be six months or so,” said Cockerill. “We just have to support the player and get him back on the field. It has been hugely disappointing for him and the club.”

Former England captain Martin Corry, meanwhile, has backed Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie after he described England’s Six Nations performance – a fourth successive second-place finish – as unacceptable. Ritchie’s stance has drawn criticism from England’s 2003 World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward amid claims it undermined team boss Stuart Lancaster, although Corry insists Ritchie is correct to highlight England’s failings.

“It was a disappointing performance,” said Corry. “Since 2003, we’ve won the Six Nations once. France and Wales have won it four times and Ireland have won it three times. So I think Ian has every right to make those comments.”