Ellis's return from injury is latest boost for Johnson

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The Independent Online

The England manager Martin Johnson was given a double helping of good news by his old club Leicester yesterday. No sooner had Wasps announced the return from injury of Danny Cipriani, than the Tigers were able to name the scrum-half Harry Ellis in their line-up to take on Northampton Saints tonight.

Tigers also have Ellis's international colleague Dan Hipkiss back in the centre following a shoulder injury. Ellis, 26, who underwent a major knee operation in May 2007 after damaging anterior cruciate ligaments, started Leicester's first two Premiership games of the season, but had to be replaced each time. And there were real fears that he might struggle to regain full fitness. But having rested Ellis for Tigers' last two matches the head coach Heyneke Meyer is clearly confident the scrum-half, who last played for England in the 2007 Six Nations, is fully fit at last. Saints, fired up for their first East Midlands derby since the 2006-07 season, have named Ben Foden at scrum-half with Chris Mayor coming in to the centre.

London Irish have named the XV which finished the match and conjured up victory at Harlequins last weekend as their starting line-up against Sale Sharks at the Madejski Stadium tonight. It means the captain Bob Casey makes his first start of the season, Delon Armitage switches to full-back, while Peter Hewat moves to fly-half.

The Sale director of rugby Philippe Saint André has rotated his squad and has named England's Mathew Tait at full-back in place of Rory Lamont, while the captain Juan-Martin Fernandez Lobbe has recovered from the shoulder injury he picked up in the opening match of the season and returns to the Sale back row.

Bath make two changes for the visit to Wasps, prop David Barnes and hooker Pieter Dixon coming in to the starting line-up. In addition to Cipriani's return, Wasps have hooker and captain Raphael Ibanez and prop Tim Payne back, with Simon Shaw returning to partner Tom Palmer at lock.

The fly-half Adrian Jarvis returns from injury for Bristol against Saracens, who travel to the Memorial Stadium without the New Zealand All Black Chris Jack.

Gloucester have signed the Fijian sevens star Apo Satala, the Army No 8 until the end of the season following a successful trial at Kingsholm.

Japan has bid to stage the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups. Having lost out to New Zealand for 2011, the Japanese have retained the option of bidding for both or either when final tenders are submitted next year. "We are bidding to host the World Cup not just for Japan but for Asia," said Japan RFU chairman Nobby Mashimo.

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