Leicester Tigers turn to Toby Flood for battle with Harlequins

The fly-half will try to increase the champions' chances of a top-two league finish

rugby union correspondent

If Toby Flood's decision to chase the Euro millions with Toulouse next season cost him his place in the England squad for the Six Nations, it did not do his Leicester career a fat lot of good either: the outside-half has been playing second fiddle to the young Welshman Owen Williams for several weeks now.

Flood is back in the champions' starting line-up for Friday's match, however, and as the meeting with Harlequins at The Stoop has all the makings of a minor classic, the idea that he is no longer trusted by Richard Cockerill and company is clearly for the birds.

Cockerill, the Tigers director of rugby, has picked his one-time captain ahead of Williams, who must make do with a seat on the bench alongside the England and Lions lock Geoff Parling, back in the selection mix after long-term injury.

With Anthony Allen returning at inside centre and the first-choice prop pairing of Marcos Ayerza and Logovi'i Mulipola in harness once again, there can be no doubting the desire of Leicester, third in the Premiership, to press their case for a top-two finish and a home semi-final.

Quins, who have their influential Red Rose contingent present and correct, cannot afford to lose – not with Bath, five points ahead of them in fourth place, hosting bottom side Worcester on Saturday.

The Londoners have home advantage against the West Countrymen in the last round of league games, but that will mean precious little unless they can remain within striking range.

Meanwhile, the chances of Christian Wade recovering from his foot injury in time for England's forthcoming Test series in New Zealand appear to be remote at best.

The 22-year-old Wasps wing, still uncapped despite being within touching distance of an international debut for longer than he cares to remember, said this week he was still hoping for a seat on the flight to Auckland next month, but his club coach, David Young, painted a much darker picture yesterday.

"I don't know where it's all coming from because Christian is nowhere near playing at the moment – unless someone has a magic wand," Young said. "He's working hard to get back, but I don't see when he's going to be playing for us. There are no issues. He's just running out of time with the season coming to a close and we won't put him at risk."

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