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Edinburgh v Racing Metro - Heineken Cup match preview
Edinburgh will welcome back Ben Cairns for Friday's Heineken Cup fixture against Racing Metro at Murrayfield.
As well as Cairns, three other capped internationalists have been named in the squad, with Ben Atiga (All Blacks) and Netani Talei (Fiji) starting the match. Dimitri Basilaia (Georgia) will occupy the back-row replacement space on the bench.
Cairns returns following a long-term injury, having been absent since the club's pre-season match in August 2011 against Sale Sharks.
Last weekend saw him launch his long-awaited comeback for Melrose. He will add to his 110 competitive appearances for Edinburgh as one of eight changes to the side.
This weekend's clash is the last match before the crucial back-to-back 1872 Cup derby matches with city rivals, Glasgow Warriors.
Full-back Greig Tonks is the only reselected back as Lee Jones and Dougie Fife come in for the injured Tom Brown (knee) and Tim Visser, on the wings.
Following a competent debut off the bench in Paris last weekend, Piers Francis has been handed his first start at stand-off and will partner in-bound scrum-half Chris Leck.
The final change occurs in the pack as Robert McAlpine replaces Sean Cox to join forces with his former Scotland age-grade colleague, Grant Gilchrist, in the second-row.
Meanwhile, Racing Metro have decided to leave Juan Martin Hernandez on the bench for a match that, should they win, would see them move temporarily top of the Pool.
Olly Barkley, former England international, remains at fly-half with Bernard Le Roux coming into the side for absent number eight Masi Matadigo.
Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Dougie Fife, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Chris Leck, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Robert McAlpine, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Perry Parker, 20 Dimitri Basilaia, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Gregor Hunter, 23 Sep Visser.
Racing Métro: 15 Gaetan Germain, 14 Sereli Bobo, 13 Guillaume Bousses, 12 Alexandre Dumoulin, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Sebastien Descons, 8 Jacques Cronje, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Antoine Batut, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Karim Ghezal, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Bianchin, 17 Julien Brugnaut, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 20 Mathieu Belie, 21 Juan Martin Hernandez, 22 Fabrice Estebanez, 23 Alvaro Galindo.
What they said...
Edinburgh head coach Michael Bradley:
"We're delighted to welcome the timely return of these four players from injury, all of whom have the potential to make a significant contribution to our Heineken Cup and RaboDirect PRO12 campaigns at a crucial period in the season.
"It's important that they get up to speed as quickly as possible and put pressure on their peers for a place in the playing squad in some massive games coming up in the next two months.
"The two Bens [Cairns and Atiga] in the centres offer a new and exciting partnership, while their availability means we now have a number of midfield combinations available going forward.
"The return of these players adds a significant level of competition for places and, in the case of Dimitri [Basilaia] and Netani [Talei], an up-weighted physicality, which is welcome against such a combative side as Racing Metro."
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|Bath 20 - 15 Glasgow|
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|Saturday 24th January|
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|Ulster 26 - 7 Leicester|
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|Benetton Treviso 23 - 20 Ospreys|
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|Wasps 20 - 20 Leinster|
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|Glasgow 21 - 10 Montpellier|
|Saturday 17th January|
|Harlequins 3 - 23 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 13 - 22 Clermont Auvergne|
|Leinster 50 - 8 Castres|
|Toulon 60 - 22 Ulster|
|Saracens 33 - 10 Munster|
|Friday 16th January|
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Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com