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Men's Rugby Union Falcons not at full strength for trip to Edinburgh

Newcastle have been hit hard by injuries for tomorrow night’s Champions Cup clash against Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

England back-row forward Mark Wilson, who has an ear infection, is among the absentees, with the Falcons’ tighthead prop resources being particularly stretched.

“We have had three tighthead injuries in the last 24 hours and, with Jon Welsh, Craig Mitchell and Paul Mullen all also unavailable, if these props are unfit, we have no tighthead cover,” Newcastle rugby director Dean Richards told the club’s official website.

“We are in dialogue with EPCR [European Professional Club Rugby] to try to resolve the issue and that communication will continue.”

Falcons’ other absentees include Kyle Cooper, Sean Robinson, Nemani Nagusa, Michael Young, Will Welch and Joel Hodgson as they bid for a third successive Pool Five victory.

Despite being bottom of the Premiership, Newcastle have excelled on the European stage this term, beating Toulon and Montpellier to hold a two-point advantage over Edinburgh.

“Edinburgh are a really good side who are competitive in all areas,” Richards added.

“A little bit like ourselves, they are not built around superstars, they are a very workmanlike team and they have a habit of winning tight games, so it will be a really interesting contest.

“We’ve had the beauty of winning both of our games in Europe, so everything is up for grabs in terms of how we can move on in this competition, and it’s an important game for us.”

Wales international forwards Samson Lee and James Davies return from injury for the Scarlets in their Pool Four clash against Ulster on Friday night.

Both players were unavailable for Wales’s autumn Tests as they continued their recoveries from knee and hamstring injuries respectively, but they feature in the starting XV at Parc y Scarlets.

Leigh Halfpenny, though, remains absent as he continues his recovery from concussion and centre Hadleigh Parkes is on bench duty as Jonathan Davies and Kieron Fonotia team up in midfield.

The Scarlets, Champions Cup semi-finalists last season, currently prop up the group three points behind Ulster following successive defeats against Racing 92 and Leicester.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said: “It is knockout rugby as far as we are concerned and there is only one result that keeps the competition alive.

“That builds pressure within the camp and it is down to how we respond on the night.”

Ireland internationals Will Addison and Iain Henderson return for Ulster, while Test colleagues Rory Best and Jacob Stockdale also feature, with skipper Best equalling Andrew Trimble’s Ulster record of 71 European appearances.

Worcester, meanwhile, will maintain their European Challenge Cup 100 per cent record if they topple French club Pau at Stade du Hameau.

The Warriors claimed nine points from their first two games, opening up a clear lead on closest Pool Two rivals the Ospreys.

Flanker Alafoti Faosiliva makes a first start since September, having been sidelined by a calf muscle injury, and centre Wynand Olivier skippers the side.


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