Leicester Tigers: Geordan Murphy 'hopeful' of keeping in-demand Ben Youngs and George Ford

Ben Youngs and George Ford together in England training
Ben Youngs and George Ford started for England as they beat New Zealand in October's World Cup semi-final

Head coach Geordan Murphy is "hopeful" Leicester Tigers' can keep their in-demand England stars at the club despite interest in them intensifying.

Ben Youngs, linked with Northampton, and George Ford, reportedly wanted by Bristol and rugby league side Toronto, are out of contract this season.

Manu Tuilagi and Ellis Genge have also been linked with moves away.

"Every week a different one of our player is linked with another team," Murphy told BBC East Midlands Today.

Leicester's poor start to the season, which has left them second-from-bottom of the Premiership and only above Saracens because of their 35-point deduction, has led to questions about the future of some of the Tigers' biggest names.

Tuilagi, who signed a new deal in March, remains the subject of high-profile cross-code speculation after Toronto Wolfpack made Sonny Bill Williams a multi-million pound capture in November.

Scum-half Youngs, 30, fly-half Ford, 26, and 24-year-old prop Genge have all commenced contract negotiations with Tigers after returning from the World Cup in Japan.

Youngs, brother of Tigers captain Tom and son of former Leicester player Nick, is in his 13th season with the first-team, having made his debut as a 17-year-old in the 2006-07 season

"I'm sure Northampton would love a player of Ben's calibre and I'm hopeful he will stay with us at Tigers," Murphy said.

Ford, whose father Mike is attack coach at Welford Road, is in his third season back at Tigers have rejoined from Bath in 2017.

"Any contract negotiation is tricky and I don't want to say too much before anything is done, dusted and signed on the dotted line, but George is keen to stay and is integral to our plans and the way we have operated over the last few years and Ben is no different," Murphy added.

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