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Coventry Rugby head coach Alex Rae expects to select from an almost full squad for Saturday’s mouth-watering Championship encounter with Cornish Pirates.

Speaking to BBC Coventry & Warwickshire in front of the fullest training pitch for some time, Cov’s boss said that with front-rowers Toby Trinder and Suva Ma’asi now back working with the squad he has “90-plus percent” of his players either available for selection or very close to being match fit.

“Only Ollie Andrews is still in recovery,” he said. “He is still a few weeks away from full fitness but he has started running again and is making good progress and there’s light at the end of the tunnel for him now.

“Tiki Nayalo is back from his Army duties and has been training really well. He is a big player whose physicality in attack and defence makes a big difference for us – he’s a bit of a talisman so it’s great to have him back.”

There has been little between the two clubs in recent season, with the Penzance-based visitors finishing two positions behind the third-placed blue-and-whites last term after both of the clubs’ meetings were decided by home advantage.

Rae expects little to change 12 months on against opponents who he rates as one of the leading lights in English rugby’s second tier.

“Our minds have been really focussed this week by the prospect of a first-versus-third game against the Pirates,” he said.

“I’ve been really impressed by them this season and it could be a brilliant advertisement for Championship rugby.

“They never move too far away from their DNA and their forwards coach Alan Paver always has them well prepped. Their scrum and lineout are always well-organised and their maul is a powerful weapon as you would expect from a physical, confrontational team.

“Gav Cattle also has their backs moving the ball really well and they have threats all over the park and a strong kicking game so we’re expecting one of the hardest games we face this season.

“Pirates have three difficult away games on the bounce, here then at Ealing and at Bedford and they’ll be looking to get that run off to a good start and roll on from there.

“I hear that ticket sales are going really well and we could have close to 4,000 here again. That’s really exciting for the lads – it makes such a difference to have that level of support and a buzz around the place. We’ll be doing our best to give them a performance they can be proud of.”

Buy tickets to Coventry Rugby’s home game against Cornish Pirates on Saturday January 27th here: