Preview: Northampton v London Irish

Date published: February 12 2015

A number of senior names return to the Northampton starting XV for Friday's Premiership clash with London Irish at Franklin's Gardens.

With England confirming and unchanged 23, Stephen Myler and Calum Clark both come into the Saints' starting lineup, with Saxon Alex Waller also returning.

Among the backs, James Wilson and George Pisi wear 15 and 13 respectively, while Salesi Ma'afu, Samu Manoa and Christian Day are all included in a pack captained by Phil Dowson.

Meanwhile, London Irish Head Coach Glenn Delaney has named his squad.

Tom Court, David Paice and Halani Aulika make up the front row with George Skivington and Jebb Sinclair in the second row. Ofisa Treviranus, Conor Gilsenan and Tom Guest make up the back row.

Shane Geraghty and Scott Steele form the half back pairing with Eamonn Sheridan and Fergus Mulchrone in the centre. Tom Fowlie, Topsy Ojo and Andrew Fenby are named in the back three.

Luke Narraway has recovered from injury to be named among the replacements alongside 17 year-old Academy fly-half Theo Brophy-Clews who impressed during the LV=Cup campaign.

"We are excited by the challenge of going to Saints, playing the champions at their home ground is the biggest test of the season," said Delaney.

"The players that have been selected have been so on merit, however there have been a couple of setbacks towards the end of this week that have forced a couple of late changes. Theo Brophy-Clews has shown real maturity during the LV=Cup series and we believe he already has the capability to play at this level and therefore has been named as a replacement."

Form: It could be a long day for Irish as their only victory on the road since October came against Rovigo in the European Challenge Cup at the end of January. The Exiles' last four league games have all been won by the home team on the day. Irish's last league game was a hard-fought 28-26 win over Exeter Chiefs, while Northampton were on the wrong end of a 20-7 scoreline to Sale Sharks. History indicates that Jim Mallinder's troops will respond in style though, as they have only lost once to London Irish at Franklin's Gardens since 2004 and haven't been defeated in successive league matches since April of last year.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Tom Stephenson, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Phil Dowson (c), 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements:16 Matti Williams, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 James Craig, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Ahsee Tuala.

London Irish: 15 Andrew Fenby, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Tom Fowlie, 10 Shane Gergahty, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Conor Gilsenan, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Jebb Sinclair, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Leo Halavatau, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Luke Narraway, 21 Tomás O'Leary, 22 Theo Brophy-Clews, 23 Alex Lewington

Date: Friday, February 13
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Kickoff: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant Referees: Kelvin Stewart, Ashley Rowden
TMO: Sean Davey