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Croft sets off for sevens

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Tigers forward Tom Croft will exchange English winter for the sunshine of the Middle East when he joins the England squad for the IRB Sevens in Dubai this week. The 21-year-old has just returned to action after recovering from a fractured ankle suffered in the opening game of the season and is included in England coach Mike Friday's squad for the opening tournament of the IRB season.

England have won the Dubai leg of the IRB Sevens series in the last two years and always attract big support at the event.

Friday said: "The huge support England enjoy in Dubai makes it a very special place to play and everyone is keen to get on to the field and show what they can do. Having won the tournament for the last two years, we will face additional pressure, especially as the crowd are predominantly English. This squad includes several of the successful England U-21 Grand Slam-winning team of last season, and there is some real pace among the players." 

Croft is one of seven uncapped players in the squad, though he did play in Dubai last year as part of the Samurai St George squad in the invitational competition.

The Dubai tournament, now in its 37th year, has grown to become the biggest sporting event in the Middle East and, with record advance ticket sales, is on course for a capacity 60,000 crowd over the two competition days.

England are drawn in Pool B with France, Scotland and Zimbabwe.

After Dubai, the squad will move on to the Emirates Airline South Africa Sevens where Waisele Serevi's Fiji are the defending champions. England will face Argentina, Wales and Portugal.   

England Sevens squad for the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens:

Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby), Jack Adams (Gloucester), Simon Amor (London Wasps), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), David Doherty (London Wasps), Ben Gollings (Doncaster), James Haskell (London Wasps), Michael Hills (Sale Sharks), Dominic Shabbo (London Irish), David Strettle (NEC Harlequins), Rob Thirlby (Gloucester Rugby), Andy Vilk (Sale Sharks)