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Scarlets look likely to be without Wales wing George North

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: December 04, 2012

George North

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THE Scarlets are waiting to hear whether Wales wing George North will be fit to play in their Heineken Cup double-header against Exeter.

North is nursing a hip flexor problem which forced him to miss Wales's final two Tests of the autumn series against New Zealand and Australia.

Wales coach Warren Gatland admitted last week that North could face another three weeks on the sidelines, which would rule him out of the crucial back-to-back round three and four matches against the Chiefs.

The absence of North would be a blow to the Scarlets' hopes of salvaging something from their European campaign.

The West Wales region currently have just one point from their opening two Pool 5 matches, nine points adrift of Clermont Auvergne and seven behind Leinster.

Having been without his entire Wales contingent for Sunday's 19-12 Pro12 defeat to Ulster in Llanelli, Easterby is hoping there will be no further casualties from Wales's bruising autumn.

Back-rowers Josh Turnbull (knee) and Rob McCusker (ankle) remain on the injury list and Easterby will be keeping his fingers crossed that Matthew Rees, Ken Owens, Aaron Shingler, Rhys Priestland, Jonathan Davies, and Liam Williams, who all featured against the Wallabies, haven't picked up any knocks. Samson Lee, Scott Williams and Tavis Knoyle were unused replacements at the Millennium Stadium.

"Hopefully, the boys won't have any problems coming back and being motivated to play this weekend and we will try to get as many of them back into the squad as we can," said Easterby, ahead of Saturday's clash at Parc y Scarlets.

"You have got to give credit to the lads who have put in a couple of good weeks before Ulster and hopefully we will be able select from strength against the Chiefs.

"We are still missing a couple of players, but we can still pick a strong team for a game we have to win regardless of anything else that goes on.

"Exeter will not be too dissimilar to Ulster. They have a good forward pack, they have been winning a lot of rugby this year and will come here with plenty of confidence. They are a good team and we will have to be better than we were against Ulster to get a result."

Hooker Emyr Phillips picked up a neck problem early on in the Ulster game, while wing Morgan Stoddart is to be rested for the next three weeks as a precaution as the region's medical team manage his comeback from the long-term double leg fracture that kept him out of the game for 14 months.

Prop Rhodri Jones is available after playing 40 minutes for Llanelli RFC against Aberavon on Friday evening.

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