Tom Croft is hopeful that his current injury could be a blessing in disguise by the time the Lions come calling next summer.
The England blindside has been sidelined since late April with a neck injury that forced him to miss the final game of the domestic season, as well as England’s recent five-match tour of South Africa.
A mistimed tackle on former England colleague Nick Easter in a regular season game at The Stoop saw him receive seven minutes of treatment on the pitch before being stretchered off.
Croft had to sit and watch as his Leicester side lost out to Quins at Twickenham before Exeter’s Tom Johnson showed his worth in deputising in the England No6 shirt in the three-Test series with the Springboks.
The 26-year-old Croft, who scored a brace of tries on his Lions Test debut three years ago, admits sitting and watching his team-mates for club and country hasn’t been easy but he insists his injury lay-off could mean he is in better physical shape this time next year at the end of what is set to be an extra long season.
“I fractured a couple of vertabre and damaged some of the discs so it was a bit frustrating,” said Croft, who now has 31 England caps to name.
“But things are going well – I’m back into training already and into the weights. I’m slowly building it back up so come the end of September, we should be about there.
“I’ve missed playing massively. I missed the Aviva Premiership Final against Harlequins, which we lost, and I missed the summer tour with England as well.
“It was very frustrating but the silver lining is that it allows me to get other niggles sorted and to make sure I’m fresh by the time I come back.”