Croft confident England can ‘win it with kids’

Tom Croft
Tom Croft
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Tom Croft is confident England can emulate Manchester United and prove it is possible to win major honours with an inexperienced side.

England are likely to field a starting line-up against Scotland next Saturday featuring three debutants and eight players aged 25 and under.

Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt and Phil Dowson are all tipped to win their first caps at Murrayfield, while Chris Robshaw will captain England on only his second Test appearance.

In 1995, Alan Hansen famously said: “You can’t win anything with kids” – only for new-look Manchester United to prove him wrong by claiming a Premier League and FA Cup double.

Croft, the 26-year-old Leicester flanker, believes England’s crop of young guns can do something similar by mounting a successful defence of their Six Nations crown.

“The players’ expectation is to defend our title,” said Croft, who is one of the most experienced members of the squad with 34 Test caps.

“It is a tough start up in Edinburgh and that is the first task and you have to take it match by match but we will aim to win the Six Nations. We are bringing in a new crop of players for the next World Cup but every time you take the field you want to win and winning the Six Nations is a massive achievement.”

Asked whether inexperience would make it harder, Croft added: “I don’t think so because of the sort of character that has been shown.”

England’s interim head coach Stuart Lancaster not only named a new-look squad but he has had to address the cultural problems which undermined the World Cup campaign.

England returned from the World Cup with questions being asked about the players’ pride, passion and commitment to the jersey after a campaign dogged by controversy ended with a quarter-final exit.

Croft believes the injection of enthusiasm from the new arrivals, both on the playing and coaching staff, has invigorated the whole set-up. He said: “There are lots of guys here who haven’t been capped yet or who have very limited caps and they have a desperation to play for their country.

“That is the way it should be for everyone, whether it is your first cap or 50th.”