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Six Nations 2013: Croft starts, Farrell returns for England’s trip to Wales

Six Nations 2013: Tom Croft will make his first England start for a year after he was named in the side for Saturday's clash in Wales

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Tom Croft suffered a serious neck injury last yearPhoto: SSE

tom croft

Tom Croft will make his first England start for a year after he was named in Stuart Lancaster’s side for their Six Nations decider with Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

Croft, who has fought his way back to fitness after a sustaining a serious neck injury, came off the bench last time out against Italy but will take his place alongside skipper Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood in the back row.

Elsewhere, Owen Farrell returns to the side after missing out against the Azzurri with a hamstring injury and resumes his half-back partnership with Ben Youngs – Toby Flood and Danny Care dropping to the bench.

Up front, Joe Marler comes back in for Mako Vunipola at loosehead prop and Joe Launchbury, who had hyper-extended his elbow against Italy, has made a swift recovery and remains in the second row with Geoff Parling.

Lancaster said: “We have come a long way through the QBE series and the Six Nations and we want to finish well on what will be a fantastic occasion in Cardiff.

“It will be a great experience for our English team. Every single player, whether they are in the 23 or not this Saturday, has contributed to getting us in this position and they should be proud of that.

“The support of the country has been great throughout the tournament and I am sure they will be right behind us come 5 o’clock.”

After defeating Italy 18-11, England head to Wales in search of a first Six Nations Grand Slam in 10 years and they will still win the Championship should they lose to their hosts by six points or less.

Any defeat by eight points or more would hand Wales the title while if the Red Dragons win by seven, it would come down to tries scored and Wales currently have seven to England’s five.

England team: A Goode (Saracens); C Ashton (Saracens), M Tuilagi (Leicester), B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins); O Farrell (Saracens), B Youngs (Leicester); J Marler (Harlequins), T Youngs (Leicester), D Cole (Leicester), J Launchbury (Wasps), G Parling (Leicester), T Croft (Leicester), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), T Wood (Northampton).

Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton), D Wilson (Bath), M Vunipola (Saracens), C Lawes (Northampton), J Haskell (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins), T Flood (Leicester), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester).

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