Kay injury threatens Leicester's ambitions in Europe

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The Independent Online

Ben Kay, the England second-row forward and principal line-out organiser, is unlikely to recover from ankle problems in time to play for Leicester in their most important match of the season to date, the Heineken Cup quarter-final with Leinster in Dublin on Saturday evening.

This is serious news for the Midlanders, whose line-out imploded during last weekend's unexpected Premiership defeat at Leeds. A similar misfire at Lansdowne Road against the likes of Malcolm O'Kelly would probably end their hopes of securing a third European title in five years.

John Wells, the Tigers' coach, admitted Kay was "struggling", and did not hold out much hope of an early return for the World Cup- winning lock, who suffered his injury on England duty against Scotland in the Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham 10 days ago. In his absence, Martin Johnson is likely to be partnered by the uncapped 24-year-old Louis Deacon.

Heineken Cup organisers confirmed yesterday that the four quarter-finals will be played before capacity audiences, with more than 160,000 supporters watching the ties live.

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