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Aviva Premiership: Toby Flood returns to face Bath as Wasps welcome Exeter

Last Updated: 05/01/14 1:51pm

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Toby Flood: Will start for Leicester at inside centre on Sunday at Welford Road.

Toby Flood: Will start for Leicester at inside centre on Sunday at Welford Road.

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Leicester welcome back Toby Flood for the clash against top-four rivals Bath at Welford Road on Sunday - but he will not be in his usual position of fly-half.

England international Flood sat out the 30-23 victory over Sale last time out but returns to the Tigers' starting line-up at inside centre, replacing the injured Dan Bowden.

"We need to keep in contention with the top six and, with Exeter just above us in the table, this game gives us a chance to do that."
Dai Young

Anthony Allen would have been a like-for-like replacement in the midfield but he has been given extra time to recover from a calf muscle problem.

Winger Miles Benjamin and back rower Jordan Crane both start for the hosts, while ex-Bath hooker Rob Hawkins is included in the matchday squad for the first time this season after recovering from injury.

Leicester currently sit in fifth place in the table but have lost just once in their last eight outings in all competitions.

A victory at the weekend would see them leapfrog over their opponents into the play-off places; they have only lost once at home to Bath in 17 previous Premiership clashes.

The visitors have named Nick Abendanon at full-back, meaning Anthony Watson shifts to the wing. Former Tiger Horacio Agulla is on the bench.

George Ford and Peter Stringer are the chosen half-back combination but the pack remains the same as the one that started the 43-25 defeat to Northampton last weekend.

Crucial

Sunday sees one other top-flight fixture take place; Wasps welcome Exeter to Adams Park with both sides knowing a win is crucial if they are to keep pace with the play-off contenders.

Dai Young has made three changes for the home team, including handing a starting berth to scrum-half Joe Simpson. Rory Pitman and Guy Thompson are also drafted into the back row instead of Sam Jones and James Haskell.

"We need to keep in contention with the top six and, with Exeter just above us in the table, this game gives us a chance to do that," Young said.

Exeter, who go in search of the league double over their capital opponents, will have Henry Slade making his first Aviva Premiership start at fly-half.

He will form a new-look half-back pairing with Dave Lewis, who is recalled in place of the injured Haydn Thomas, while Chris Whitehead and James Hanks are selected ahead of Jack Yeandle and Damian Welch in the pack.

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