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Premiership Rugby

Exiles change one for relegation battle

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

South African hooker Naka Drotské returns, while Adrian Flavin drops out, with the winner of the match certain to survive the drop, and the loser left to wait and see if bottom side Bath can overtake them with a win against Newcastle the same day.

With talk of Bath and Bristol merging however, that scenario may become irrelevant, but in such uncertain times, neither side will be willing to take any chances in finishing bottom of the pile.

London Irish Managing Director Conor O'Shea said ahead of the match: "This season's Premiership is the most competitive I can remember.

"So tight is it that we could face the dreaded drop, or we could be in the wildcard play-offs for a place in next season's Heineken Cup. All we care about is getting the result we need on Saturday."

Irish will be without a host of injured players, with their current casualties being Justin Bishop (ankle), Kevin Burke (knee), Nick Burrows (knee), James Cockle (finger), Glenn Delaney (ankle), Darren Edwards (ribs), Paul Gustard (torn biceps), Richard Kirke (shoulder) and Brendan Venter (knee).

Both sides will be hoping for a slight improvement on the last time the sides met, back in November when they played out a 32-32 draw.

London Irish: 15 Michael Horak, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Geoff Appleford, 12 Rob Hoadley, 11 Kevin Barrett, 10 Mark Mapletoft, 9 Hentie Martens, 8 Chris Sheasby, 7 Kieron Dawson, 6 Declan Danaher, 5 Bob Casey, 4 Ryan Strudwick (captain), 3 Rob Hardwick, 2 Naka Drotské, 1 Mike Worsley.Replacements: 16 Ed Thrower, 17 Barry Everitt, 18 Nick Kennedy, 19 Adrian Flavin, 20 Kieran Roche, 21 Neal Hatley, 22 Simon Halford.

Kick-off: 15.00 BST (14.00 GMT)

By Mark Smith

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