Fit-again Deacon set to carry lightweight Tigers

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The Independent Online

The Leicester lock Louis Deacon is determined to up his bid to win a place in the England squad for the Six Nations Championship with another eye-catching display for the Tigers against Saracens today.

The Leicester lock Louis Deacon is determined to up his bid to win a place in the England squad for the Six Nations Championship with another eye-catching display for the Tigers against Saracens today.

Deacon had his dreams of appearing for England in the autumn internationals dashed by a "clumsy" injury in training and is desperate to force his way back into Andy Robinson's plans.

"At one stage I probably had a good chance of being involved in the England side for the Canada game," said Deacon. "Andy Robinson did say he'd be looking to see how I'm playing after the autumn internationals and that he would like to involve me in the Six Nations, but I have to be playing well."

Leicester, top of the Zurich Premiership table, drew with Wasps last weekend but have been forced to include Richard Cockerill in the starting line-up because of injuries to James Buckland (back) and Ephraim Taukafa (hamstring).

"Saracens haven't lost many players at all, whereas we've been without seven internationals and another eight guys injured," said Deacon. "They'll be well-organised." Saracens have made three changes following their victory over Gloucester with Simon Raiwalui, Ben Skirving and Matt Cairns recalled.

Tomorrow, Northampton will try to put a week of upheaval behind them and begin life after Alan Solomons with a victory away at Newcastle. The new head coach, Budge Pountney, is used to turmoil. "It has been one hell of a year. I broke my leg, my wife had a baby, I've moved house, and changed job. It has all been very eventful, but nothing like the last three days.

"The task was handed to me and Paul Grayson without much warning. We heard nothing about it until Sunday. It was a bit like: 'There you go boys; off you go!'" Pountney had his hands full from day one with Corne Krige and Robbie Kempson joining an injury list which already includes Selborne Boome and Tom Smith.

With flanker Darren Fox serving an eight-week ban and hooker Steve Thompson away with England, prop Robbie Morris and lock Ed O'Donoghue both make their first starts of the season while Mark Soden comes into the back row. "We only had 26 players fit so it did not leave us too many alternatives," admitted Pountney.

Harlequins, rejuvenated after successive victories, have named an unchanged side once again for the visit of Leeds to The Stoop. The Tykes, who were beaten in injury time by Bath last weekend, include Mark Regan and Iain Balshaw and the Harlequins head coach, Mark Evans, warned his side: "We can expect to feel a backlash from Leeds - they will be seething."

Bath have recalled Andy Beattie and Gareth Delve for tomorrow's clash with London Irish, who sit just one place behind them in fifth.

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