Leicester Tigers: Tom Croft is ready for return to England, says Richard Cockerill
Richard Cockerill praised the "outstanding attitude" of his Leicester Tigers side as they put Sale Sharks to the sword at Welford Road.
The director of rugby watched his side run in six tries to beat the Aviva Premiership's bottom side 48-10.
Lock forward Ed Slater and centre Matt Smith both scored two tries apiece with a penalty try and a Mat Tait effort rounding off the scoring.
And flanker Tom Croft made a huge impact while making consecutive starts for the first time since recovering from a long-term neck injury.
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"It was probably our best 80 minute performance of the season," said Cockerill. "I was delighted with how positive we played and the manner in which we played.
"With so many guys missing, and with Sale having a virtually full squad to choose from, our willingness to play was great.
"It was a really good performance from us. We wanted to play and we practised well in the week.
"The attitude of the players and the way that they approached the game was outstanding.
"It was a potential banana skin and I was surprised how easy it was to play against them, but I am delighted.
"We needed to win today and, with Quins losing, it puts everything back in the melting pot for the top two.
"The five points from this game are massive for us. We have come out of this period with 11 points from four games.
"That is not brilliant but it still keeps us in the mix with our internationals to come back."
Flanker Croft put in a memorable performance in only his fifth start since returning from nine months out of the game.
Cockerill believes Croft could return to England's Grand Slam bid as early as next week, if he was needed.
"If England have an issue, I have no hesitation that Crofty is good enough to go and play a Test match next week," said Cockerill.
"If we put ourselves in the play-off mix for the Premiership and Tom is outstanding when we play Toulon in the Heineken Cup quarter-final, clearly there is an opportunity for him to go on a British Lions tour this summer too."
Cockerill confirmed that prop Logovi'i Mulipola left the pitch with a dead leg in the first half which should not keep him out of the game for very long.