Preview: Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints

Date published: January 8 2016

Leicester Tigers welcome back Owen Williams and front-rowers Tom Youngs and Dan Cole for Saturday's Premiership derby against Northampton Saints at Welford Road.

Williams returns at fly-half for his first start since the away win over Munster in Europe during December, while international duo Cole and Youngs, who also captains the side, come into the front row alongside Marcos Ayerza.

Peter Betham and Matt Smith return to the backline after missing the defeat at Saracens last weekend and Adam Thompstone also returns to the starting line-up.

With club captain Ed Slater ruled out by a knee ligament injury, Mike Fitzgerald joins Brendon O'Connor and Lachlan McCaffrey in the back row, with Sebastian de Chaves coming into the team at lock.

Meanwhile, Northampton have made a pair of changes to the team that beat Exeter and both come in the backs, where Jamie Elliott starts on the right wing and Lee Dickson captains the side from scrum-half.

Two Toms, Wood and Kessell, come into the match day 23 among the replacements.

Form: Northampton ended a three-game winless run with their 8-3 victory at home to Exeter Chiefs on New Year's Day but have not hit the heights of last season so far this campaign. The Tigers meanwhile have won their last 11 home games in Premiership Rugby – but did see their seven-game winning run in all tournaments halted last time out by Saracens. Each club won its respective home game when the two East Midlands rivals clashed in Premiership Rugby last season whilst Northampton have not been victorious at Welford Road in any competition since a 10-9 win in Premiership Rugby in February 2007.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Matt Smith, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Sebastian de Chaves, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza
16 Harry Thacker, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Laurence Pearce, 20 Tom Croft, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Vereniki Goneva

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George North, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Tom Collins, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Lee Dickson (c), 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Christian Day, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Harry Mallinder

Date: Saturday, January 9
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Peter Allan
TMO: Sean Davey