Moody to miss Leicester return

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The Independent Online

Lewis Moody looks set to miss out on a Welford Road reunion with many of his former Leicester team-mates tomorrow.

But the England captain is on course to make next month's opening autumn Test appointment with New Zealand at Twickenham.

Moody, who joined Bath from Leicester this summer, has been sidelined since suffering an eye injury during the Aviva Premiership home defeat against Gloucester three weeks ago.

The England squad assemble this weekend ahead of their November programme, and Moody is likely to make his comeback when Bath face Harlequins in nine days' time.

"You have to make sure he is absolutely spot-on before he comes back into it," said Bath forwards coach Martin Haag.

"But he is on schedule in terms of where we think he should be.

"When someone has got an injury you've got to make sure it's right. If he misses this week, he misses this week. We should see him back in a Bath shirt very shortly - Harlequins away, probably."

Bath's immediate concern is attempting to arrest a slide that has seen them lose three of their last five games in domestic and European action.

But the omens are not good, given it is almost seven years since Bath beat Leicester in a Premiership game at Welford Road, a ground where Tigers have lost one league match in 25 months.

Elsewhere tomorrow, Gloucester will aim to make it three Premiership wins on the bounce when Harlequins arrive at Kingsholm, while Exeter's unbeaten home record in English rugby's top flight should come under serious threat from London Irish.

Bottom club Leeds Carnegie are in action tonight, hosting ninth-placed Sale Sharks, and Leeds head coach Neil Back believes a 22-13 Amlin Challenge Cup loss to tournament favourites Stade Francais last Sunday has assisted his team's cause.

"Looking back to last weekend's game, a real positive for us was the fact that we created lots of opportunities in what was probably our best performance of the season so far," he said.

Leeds show four changes from the Stade clash, including Ceiron Thomas featuring at full-back and Scott Mathie returning as scrum-half, while Sale - eight points above their opponents - are again without England centre Mathew Tait, whose troublesome knee is to be further assessed.

Saracens will aim to bounce back from successive Heineken Cup defeats against Clermont Auvergne and Leinster when they visit Newcastle tonight.

Victory for Brendan Venter's team would take them top of the table, although they head north with a much-changed side following last Saturday's narrow loss to Leinster at Wembley.

"Everyone is aware of what a top side Saracens are, and we will have to meet that threat head-on," said Newcastle coach Alan Tait.

"They have threats all over the field, they keep possession well and suck the energy out of defences, so we have to be absolutely on the button in terms of our discipline and concentration."