Tigers boss Murphy discusses bringing back England stars for Saints showdown

Manu Tuilagi could be in action for Tigers against Saints on Friday night
Manu Tuilagi could be in action for Tigers against Saints on Friday night

Leicester Tigers boss Geordan Murphy says his England stars are 'itching to play' against Saints at Welford Road on Friday night.

But Murphy is unsure whether he will throw George Ford, Ben Youngs, Dan Cole, Ellis Genge, Jonny May and Manu Tuilagi straight back into club action.

Leicester had last weekend off and they could also have the likes of Matt Toomua, Ben White, Sam Harrison, Brendon O'Connor and Mike Fitzgerald available after injury.

Those comebacks, allied with the England players having completed their Six Nations commitments, means Murphy has some big decisions to make in derby week.

"It's great for the group, we were at sort of breaking point with injuries and to get those six bodies back gives a nice little bit of energy to the group," Murphy told the Tigers website.

"They're high quality players and they had a tough few weeks on international duty so whether or not we use them is the question now.

"But they've all come back itching to play so it will be interesting to see what we do."

Saints are set to welcome back fly-half Dan Biggar on Friday night, following the conclusion of his stint with Wales, who won the Grand Slam last weekend.

And Chris Boyd's men go into the derby on the back of winning the Premiership Rugby Cup at Franklin's Gardens last Sunday.

Saints are currently seventh in the Gallagher Premiership ahead of this week's league battle at Welford Road, with Leicester three places and three points worse off.

"This is massive for us," said Murphy.

"To add a little bit more spice, the middle of the table is so tight and obviously we're down the bottom end of it, so we have to change our fortunes, we have to start winning.

"It's a huge game for us and Saints will be coming here with massive confidence on the back of their cup win last weekend.

"They're a great side, they're playing very, very good football and it's going to be a tough match but I'm looking forward to it.

"The derby matches are always entertaining and the crowd will have a great time this weekend."

Saints won 27-21 at Welford Road last April, ending an 11-year wait for a victory at the home of their local rivals.

And Murphy admits that was a really disappointing day for Tigers.

"Derby weeks are really special, the big games against Saints are always really, really tight," Murphy said.

"Over the past few years, the games have had one score in them and there have been some big performances from both sides.

"Last year Saints got a big win at Welford Road, which we were particularly disappointed with.

"We didn't play at Franklin's Gardens in the league this year because we were down at Twickenham so it's nice to have those guys back our place on Friday night."