TOP BAR - Fixtures

LV= Cup preview: Wasps v Cardiff Blues

Returning prop John Yapp believes the key to Wasps’ chances of LV= Cup joy this weekend lie with their new-look front row.

Yapp, absent with injury since November, has got the nod to start at loose-head against Cardiff Blues, alongside Tom Lindsay and Phil Swainston, who have scarcely been seen in the yellow and black this term.

Wasps are second in Pool 3 with a win and a defeat under their belts, but can take a giant stride towards the knockout stages of a competition they have won three times, should the Blues be brushed aside.

And Yapp, who began his career with Cardiff Blues, is primed for battle.

“Up front will be a good contest, that’s where the game can be won and lost,” said the 31-year-old.

“The boys have been training hard all season, waiting for their chance to get their shirt on, so we will be ready for whatever is thrown at us.

“We’re still in the hunt to go through and a win will really take some of the pressure off next week’s game.”

Ed Jackson will captain Wasps at the Ricoh Arena, while fly-half Glyn Hughes makes his debut so Alex Lozowski reverts to full-back.

Will Helu, Sailosi Tagicakibau and Charlie Davies all return to the backline after injury, while centre Andrea Masi gets some much-needed game time before jetting off to join up with Italy ahead of the Six Nations.

Thomas Young is back in the pack after an ankle injury, alongside back-rowers Guy Thompson and Ed Jackson.

Wasps Academy scrum-half James Small-Edwards and back-row Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas are included among the replacements.

The Blues have won both of their LV= Cup contests so far this term, so a Wasps win would carry favour with Aviva Premiership Rugby rivals Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks and London Irish.

James Sheekey and Seb Davies are set to make their Cardiff debuts, with back-row Ellis Jenkins named as captain.

Flanker Jordan Viggers is named among the replacements and could make his first Blues appearance.

Tickets for this year's LV= Cup Final on 22 March at Franklin's Gardens are now on sale. Click here to snap one up from just £20 for adults, £10 for juniors to see who will win the first silverware of the season.

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