Tighthead crisis for Newcastle ahead of Edinburgh clash

Gary Graham will play for Newcastle Falcons against Edinburgh. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images
Gary Graham will play for Newcastle Falcons against Edinburgh. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images
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Newcastle have been hit hard by injuries ahead of tonight’s Heineken Champions Cup clash against Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield.

England back-row forward Mark Wilson, who has an ear infection, is among the absentees, with the Falcons’ tighthead prop resources being particularly stretched.

“We have had three tighthead injuries in the last 24 hours, and with Jon Welsh, Craig Mitchell and Paul Mullen all also unavailable, if these props are unfit we have no tighthead cover,” said Newcastle rugby director Dean Richards, who has picked Scotland squad member Gary Graham at openside flanker. “We are in dialogue with EPCR (European Professional Club Rugby) to try to resolve the issue, and that communication will continue.”

Falcons’ other absentees include Kyle Cooper, Sean Robinson, Nemani Nagusa, Michael Young, Will Welch and Joel Hodgson as they seek a third successive Pool 5 win.

Despite being bottom of the Premiership, Newcastle have excelled in Europe this term, beating Toulon and Montpellier to hold a two-point advantage over Edinburgh.

“Edinburgh are a really good side who are competitive in all areas,” Richards added. “A little bit like ourselves, they are not built around superstars, they are a very workmanlike team and they have a habit of winning tight games, so it will be a really interesting contest.

“We’ve had the beauty of winning both of our games in Europe, so everything is up for grabs.”