Owen Farrell out, Tom Croft in for England

England's Owen Farrell kicks a penalty against France on February 23, 2013
© PA Photos
A thigh injury rules key fly-half Owen Farrell out of England's Six Nations clash with Italy at Twickenham, but Tom Croft is fit to return to Stuart Lancaster's squad.

Owen Farrell has been omitted from the England squad to face Italy in the Six Nations on Sunday due to a thigh problem.

The Saracens fly-half, who is the top scorer in this year's competition with 43 points, picked up the injury in the 23-13 win over France last weekend.

Toby Flood is likely to start in place of Farrell, and Tom Croft could also feature at Twickenham after missing a year of action with a neck injury.

Coach Stuart Lancaster told reporters: "Tom has been seen by a specialist, played back-to-back games and played 80 minutes at the weekend and did extremely well.

"In consultation with the medical teams and [Leicester director of rugby] Richard Cockerill, we've brought him back into the camp. He's available for Italy and Wales."

Lancaster also hopes to have Farrell available for the March 16 trip to Cardiff, where England could secure the trophy and a Grand Slam in the process.

England's Owen Farrell kicks a penalty against Ireland in their Six Nations match on February 10, 2013
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