EDINBURGH head coach Alan Solomons believes that his squad has got through the worst of an injury crisis which threatened to engulf the team just a few short weeks ago.
Edinburgh flew to Milan yesterday then took a 75-mile bus ride to Parma, ahead of facing Guinness Pro12 strugglers Zebre at the Stadio XXV Aprile tomorrow afternoon.
It may have been an arduous trip but Solomons was in good fettle – despite Edinburgh still being without several leading players, including Grant Gilchrist (broken arm), Hamish Watson (knee) and Cornell du Preez, who is set to miss the rest of the season with a leg injury.
Solomons said that the Autumn Tests came at just the right time for other leading players to recover and he is excited about his team’s chances of climbing into the top six of the Pro 12 table, which would qualify them for the Champions Cup next season.
Edinburgh returned to action in fine style last Sunday when they defeated Cardiff Blues at home, and they will fancy their chances against a Zebre side which was hammered 43-3 by Connacht on Friday night.
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Solomons said: “We needed a break. We had played nine games on the bounce – eleven if you include the two friendlies against Premiership opposition – and we had an inordinate injury list.
“At the time we went on the break we had 24 players out with injuries, so we needed time for them to recover and some players have now returned – like Sam Beard, Fraser McKenzie, Andries Strauss and Matt Scott.
“Tom Brown is another one who has come back.
“He has played no rugby this year because he had that op on his knee and as he was coming back he got appendicitis, then he lost an enormous amount of weight – five to ten kg – but he’s picked it up and did really well last week. He’s got the heart of a lion and I’ve got a lot of respect for him.
“Neil Cochrane is back, Stuart McInally is going to get a club game this week, George Turner is back. So, we have got options there now with Ross Ford, James Hilterbrand, Neil, Stuart, George and, although he is young, Jake Kerr is a real prospect.”
Solomons added: “Our focus is on getting the team performing well, and what will be nice is getting everyone back and getting a run of games with everyone playing.
“We haven’t really had that this season, but it will come at some point.
“We’ve got a good spirit in our team, a good synergy amongst our players, and the guys really look forward to coming back into the fold.
“What is good now is that we have ten games in a row and hopefully more guys will start filtering in.”
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