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Preview: Leicester Tigers v Saracens

Preview: Leicester Tigers v Saracens

Leicester Tigers may be ravaged by international call-ups but director of rugby Richard Cockerill still has the luxury of turning to Tom Croft and Geordan Murphy for the visit of Saracens this weekend – two players with more than 100 Test caps between them.

Leicester slumped to a 25-21 loss to table-toppers Harlequins last time out at the Stoop, meaning a home loss to Saracens in a televised game on ESPN on Saturday night – the team directly above them in the Aviva Premiership table – will see them lose ground in the race for a home semi-final in the end-of-season play-offs. 

Leicester’s five-game winning run in the Aviva Premiership ended with their defeat at champions Harlequins but with fixtures against Sale Sharks, Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs in March – Cockerill will fancy his chances of picking up points. 

"Tom Croft is fit to play and Geordan Murphy is good to go as well," said Cockerill. "We will lose Toby Flood and Manu Tuilagi, and Martin Castrogiovanni is with Italy.

"Louis Deacon will be a late call after the knock on his shoulder at Harlequins last week. 

“But if he doesn't make it, Graham Kitchener and Ed Slater have played there in big games in the past and know what they are doing."

Meanwhile, Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall says Allianz Park is starting to feel like home after the Men in Black hosted their first-ever Aviva Premiership match against Exeter last Saturday.

The new 10,000 seater stadium in Barnet saw Saracens record a 31-11 victory but all eyes were on the setting and the artificial pitch, which is the first of its kind to be used in professional rugby union.

And McCall insists finding a new home can only help their end of season charge for the play-offs. 

Saracens solitary defeat in their last ten encounters in all competitions since early December was 16-29 at London Irish on February 9.

The two clubs drew 9-9 when they met at Wembley Stadium in round three, whilst Saracens have won their last three matches at Welford Road in the regular season.

"I suppose it does feel like home because we've watched it as it's grown over the last 12 months, we've been down here quite a lot over the last 6 weeks and it's getting that way," McCall said.

"I thought there was nothing to be negative about. I think the great thing was the atmosphere. We've all been to Vicarage Road over the last couple of years and it wasn't like that. There was a real atmosphere during the warm up, during the game the crowd really got behind the team.

"Talking to the players in the changing room they certainly really enjoyed that experience."

Referee: J.P.Doyle (56th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix & Nigel Carrick. TMO: Graham Hughes

For more news, try out Leicester Tigers Match Preview Saracens
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