Leicester's Dan Cole out for trip to Munster; Manu Tuilagi could start

Leicester's Dan Cole out for trip to Munster; Manu Tuilagi could start

Leicester Tigers will be without England tighthead prop Dan Cole when they travel to Thomond Park to play Munster in the Champions Cup.

Following a quartet of international wins in the autumn series, Cole will miss out in the third round of European action with a cut on his thigh.

There is some positive news for the Tigers front-row, however, as skipper Tom Youngs is expected to return from a back problem that ruled him out of last week's derby win over Northampton Saints while Argentine veteran Marcos Ayerza continues his recovery from a calf injury sustained against Harlequins.

"Dan got injured at the weekend." Richard Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury "He has a nasty cut on his quad from a boot and that will make him unavailable for the Munster game.

"There is no structural damage but it is a fair old laceration. It has been stitched and dressed and will be a couple of weeks. Hopefully he will be OK to play in the next game."

Manu Tuilagi, meanwhile, could complete his comeback from injury with a start in Limerick following his two 20-minute run-outs in the last fortnight.

"Manu is fine, there has been no reaction (to his groin)" Cockerill said. "We will see how we get through this week but there is a chance he could start. If not, he is very close."

Back row forward Tom Croft returns to the frame after a bout of food poisoning which saw him miss last week's clash while Matt Smith has recovered from an ankle injury sustained in the Anglo Welsh Cup victory at Bath.

Mike Williams continues to target the game with Munster at Welford Road for his return from a broken arm.

Leicester will arrive at Thomond Park with a run of five straight wins but Cockerill is wary of the threat a revitalised Munster side pose.

"Thomond Park is a great place. I think Munster have re-found the pride and passion you associate with them. They have the same players pretty much as last year but are a different team, with more confidence and a little bit of edge about them."

"We are in a good position as things sit," Cockerill said. "But the next five weeks will dictate our season to a large degree.

"We have two games against Munster in Europe then three huge games in the Premiership against Exeter, Saracens and Wasps. So the next five weeks are pretty important.

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