Richard Cockerill calls on Leicester players to show 'backbone'

Cockerill has seen several of his top players fall victim to early-season injury (©GettyImages)

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill has urged his players to show backbone and resilience as the club's injury list continues to mount.

Tom Youngs - who has been ruled out of England's autumn Tests with a shoulder injury - Geoff Parling and winger Niall Morris were all injured during the devastating 45-0 loss to Bath last weekend.

Manu Tuliagi, Anthony Allen and Ed Slater are also sidelined, leaving Cockerill with a depleted squad for the upcoming clash with London Irish at Welford Road.

"We need to show some steel and backbone," the former England hooker told BBC East Midlands Today.

"We need to get out there, do what we do to keep the critics quiet. Those that want to throw mud can throw it, and we'll just get on with it."

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Cockerill appeared defiant when speaking about Leicester's continuing injury concerns and he feels the current squad have the ability to earn a victory against London Irish.

He said: "We have a side more than capable of going out and performing on Saturday and getting a result.

"Let's concentrate on that. Whoever is missing is missing, we can't control that at this point. We will patch up what we have got and crack on.

"I'm sure they will look at our team sheet and fancy their chances, but we have had that before on lots of occasions and against a lot of sides."

Silver lining

Despite the depleted nature of the Tigers' squad, there are a few players nearing a return - which will come as great relief to Cockerill as he sets about mending the damage from the loss to Bath.

Italian prop Michele Rozzo, dual-code international Brad Thorn - a summer signing who is yet to appear for the club - and Laurence Pearce are set to return to action in the coming weeks.

Seremaia Bai, Blaine Scully, Miles Benjamin and Christian Loamanu are all also set to feature sooner rather than later, and despite the early season woes on the treatment table, Leicester have made a good start to the campaign with two wins from their opening three Aviva Premiership matches.

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