Leicester Tigers’ Tom Croft insists the prospect of an England recall has not crossed his mind as he looks to secure an extended run of games in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
Croft is one of the country’s leading forwards, capable of playing in a number of positions, and has been a regular in the England squad when fit.
But prior to the current Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign, Croft had managed just 20 starts in the previous three seasons due to a host of injuries.
Croft made two appearances for England in this year’s Six Nations but then suffered more heartbreak when he required shoulder surgery, which effectively ruled him out of his second World Cup.
The 29-year-old, who has been on two British & Irish Lions tours, has started in both of Leicester Tigers’ Aviva Premiership Rugby wins this season and is set to line-up against Wasps on Sunday.
Croft says he is in good shape physically but insisted it is still too early to start thinking about an international return.
“England selection doesn’t cross my mind; it is about focussing on playing for Leicester,” Croft said.
“It is probably a boring answer but with my run of injuries, it really is just about getting back playing regularly for Leicester and trying to perform like I have in the past.
“If that leads to something else like England then it does, but Leicester is my bread and butter.”
He continued: “It is nice to have strung a couple of games together. The pre-season matches were like league matches so I’m up to about five or six games, so I just want to keep my head down, keep playing and avoid those injuries.
“I’m still getting aches and pains but that is because I am getting old and I have all these 18-year-olds running around me.
“I feel very good. The lungs are improving game on game and it is just nice to be back involved and finding my feet again. I’m enjoying it which is the most important thing for my game.
“Injuries are part of the game as it is a contact sport. I have been unfortunate in the last couple of years to pick up some reasonably serious ones so you just have to take it.”
Croft played in all five of England’s World Cup games in 2011 and trained with the squad in August after injury ruled him out of contention for the final 31-man squad, to ensure he was up to speed should one of the forwards need replacing during the tournament.
England ended up bowing out of the tournament at the group stage and Croft found it harder to take than most.
He said: “It was frustrating to watch the World Cup and the results were frustrating.
“It is great to have the Leicester lads back [earlier than expected] but I was gutted for them.
“A World Cup only comes around every four years and unfortunately I wasn’t in the best state of fitness to participate, but that is the way it goes.
“I have been fortunate to go on other tours in-between my injuries – most notably with the British and Irish Lions – so it is one of those things. It is a contact sport and you cannot expect not to get injuries.”
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