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Youngs back to boost Tigers


Sam Burgess has been told he must learn the rugby union ropes

Sam Burgess has been told he must learn the rugby union ropes

Sam Burgess has been told he must learn the rugby union ropes

Tom Youngs has returned from shoulder trouble a month ahead of schedule to start Leicester's Aviva Premiership clash with Wasps on Saturday.

The England hooker was ruled out of action until Christmas by Leicester boss Richard Cockerill after dislocating his shoulder against Bath in September.

The 27-year-old underwent surgery and has battled back to fitness far earlier than anticipated.

Youngs' England team-mate Tom Croft is also ready to return after knee trouble, his return roughly falling in the six-week schedule predicted by Tigers rugby director Cockerill.

"Tom (Youngs) will certainly be fresh and he will give impetus from a scrum, ball-carrying and aggression view," said Cockerill.

"That is exactly what we need."

Marcos Ayerza, Vereniki Goneva and Leonardo Ghiraldini all return for Leicester following autumn Test duty, boosting the hosts' armoury against Wasps, the league's highest try scorers so far this term.

Dai Young's visitors welcome Alapati Leiua and Andrea Masi back from international action, with Elliot Daly starting his three-week ban for abusing the referee in last weekend's defeat at Exeter.

Tom Varndell, Guy Thompson, Ed Jackson and Kearnan Myall all slot in for starts, with Young admitting Wasps must return to top performance after last week's loss.

"This is a great opportunity to right some of the wrongs from that result last weekend," he said. "I am looking at us to produce a much better performance this Saturday, which reflects what we are capable of as a side."

Boss Rob Baxter has admitted Exeter will have their work cut out to extend their flying start to the new season and consolidate their top-four place this weekend.

The Chiefs entertain 2013 Premiership finalists Saracens, with rugby director Baxter expecting one of the most physical battles of the campaign.

Exeter sit second in the table courtesy of their six wins and two defeats so far this term.

Centre Sam Hill returns after injury, while props Ben Moon and Moray Low slot into the starting XV.

Baxter and his coaching team signed new three-year contracts this week and the Chiefs boss wants his side to sustain the feel-good factor at Sandy Park.

"Saturday's game has become even bigger because we're second in the table and we want to stay there," said Baxter.

"What we have to make sure we do now is use that positive bit of pressure to bring the best out of us.

"As a group we have to say we like being in second place and around the top and that we'll fight tooth and nail to stay there.

"We have talked a lot about that this week, but we will see which way we go ultimately on Saturday."

England and British and Irish Lions prop Mako Vunipola is fit for the first time this season after knee surgery in May and takes a seat on Saracens' bench.

Jacques Burger starts in the back-row for Saracens, with Mouritz Botha partnering Alistair Hargreaves at lock.

Duncan Taylor starts at centre, with Chris Ashton, David Strettle and Alex Goode completing a settled back three.