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Crane and Croft in for Saxons

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Tigers forwards Jordan Crane and Tom Croft have been named in the England Saxons squad for this summer's Barclays Churchill Cup.

And they will be joined by Richard Blaze and Ayoola Erinle who both join Leicester in the summer after agreeing moves for Worcester and Wasps respectively.

No.8 Crane, who this week picked up the award as Tigers players' young player of the year, has already played in Saxons colours earlier in the season, while Croft has gained recognition at Under-21 and Sevens level.

World Cup-winning full-back Iain Balshaw is one of eight capped players named in a squad that also includes London Wasps flanker James Haskell and London Irish inside back Shane Geraghty, who made their Test debuts in the 2007 RBS 6 Nations.

Coach Jim Mallinder said: "The England Saxons squad is very important to the success of England Rugby, especially this year with the Rugby World Cup only four months away.

"It's great to have so much talent to pick from. I'm pleased to see a lot of players making the step up from age-group rugby, it's proof that the academy system is working. Dorian West and I have had very clear direction from Brian Ashton on our goals and selection policy. The Barclays Churchill Cup gives all of us an opportunity to see those players who we need more information on before the World Cup squad is picked.

"That said, it's important that we get the balance of experience and youth right to give the players the best possible chance to succeed. This is a very competitive tournament, quite a few of the players have first hand experience of just how tough it's going to be. But the fact that we'll face some strong international opposition teams makes it a great development tool for the players.  It's in situations like this that you learn which players are ready to take the next step."

Mallinder's 38-man squad includes 10 players from clubs involved in European finals on May 19 and 20. Players from London Wasps, Leicester Tigers and Bath Rugby will not be available for the opening match against USA on Friday, May 18 at Sale Sharks' Edgeley Park (kick-off 7.45pm). England then face Scotland A at Twickenham Stadium on Monday, May 28 (kick-off 3pm).

Tickets for under 16s are only £1, with adult tickets available from £10 from http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/ or 0870 902 0000.

Finals day is being staged at Twickenham on Saturday, June 2, where all six teams (England Saxons, New Zealand Maori, Ireland A, Scotland A, USA and Canada) will all be in action in three back-to-back games. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster priced from £20 for adults and £10 for under 16s.

England Saxons squad


Richard Blaze (Worcester Warriors)* will join Tigers in the summer
Chris Brooker (NEC Harlequins from 1 July 2007)
John Brooks (Northampton Saints)
Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)

Phil Dowson (Newcastle Falcons)
Jim Evans (NEC Harlequins)
Jack Forster (Gloucester Rugby)
James Haskell (London Wasps)
Neal Hatley (London Irish)
Nick Kennedy (London Irish)
Michael Lipman (Bath Rugby)
Tom Mercey (Saracens)
David Paice (London Irish)
Kieran Roche (London Irish)
David Seymour (Saracens)
Will Skinner (NEC Harlequins)
Ben Skirving (Saracens)
Matt Thompson (Newcastle Falcons)
Ben Woods (Newcastle Falcons)


Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby)
Delon Armitage (London Irish)
Iain Balshaw (Gloucester Rugby)
Olly Barkley (Bath Rugby)
Danny Cipriani (London Wasps)
Lee Dickson (Newcastle Falcons)
Paul Diggin (Northampton Saints)
Ayoola Erinle (London Wasps)* will join Tigers in the summer
Shane Geraghty (London Irish)
Adrian Jarvis (NEC Harlequins)
Ryan Lamb (Gloucester Rugby)
Nils Mordt (London Irish)
Topsy Ojo (London Irish)
Paul Sackey (London Wasps)
Dan Scarbrough (Saracens)
Kevin Sorrell (Saracens)
Tom Voyce (London Wasps)
Richard Wigglesworth (Sale Sharks)