James Simpson-Daniel is back for Gloucester tomorrow.
GLOUCESTER will launch a period of three games in eight days tomorrow and head coach Dean Ryan has made a number of changes for the trip to face the meanest defence in the Guinness Premiership.
After two successive victories over Bath and Harlequins, Gloucester make to trip to Edgeley Park to face Sale Sharks with nine changes to the side that beat Quins 24-20 at Kingsholm last weekend.
"Tomorrow is the beginning of an exceptionally intense period for us and for that reason we have to utilise the strength we have in our squad," Ryan said.
"We are back in the Guinness Premiership next Tuesday against Newcastle at Kingsholm which only gives us a four-day turnaround after tomorrow, before the start of the EDF Energy Cup against Wasps and then we are into Europe.
"I have always made it clear that changes are essential over a season of this length and intensity to remain competitive, we also have some injuries in certain areas and we need to be mindful of our schedule ahead."
Up front, Alasdair Dickinson - a first-half replacement against Quins - starts his first game of the season at loose-head, Olivier Azam remains at hooker and Dave Young comes in for Carlos Nieto, who has been ruled out with a back injury.
Will James's calf injury means Marco Bortolami returns to the second row alongside Alex Brown. In the back row, Peter Buxton will wear six and skipper the side and will pack down alongside Andy Hazell and number eight Luke Narraway.
There are also five changes in the back-line. Rory Lawson makes his first start at scrum-half since the first day of the season against Leicester and will partner Ryan Lamb at half-back, also back in the starting line-up for the first time in a fortnight.
Olly Barkley will continue at inside centre and Matthew Watkins shifts to 13 in place of Mike Tindall, who is on the bench.
In the back three, only Lesley Vainikolo remains from last Saturday's starting line-up. He will be joined on the wing by James Simpson-Daniel, who was rested last weekend, and Iain Balshaw, who returns at full-back in place of Olly Morgan for the first time this season.
Balshaw returned with 55 minutes in the Guinness A League on Monday during Gloucester's victory over Leicester.
On the bench, Ryan has gone for a four-three forward split. Andy Titterrell and Nick Wood cover the front row options, while Alasdair Strokosch and Apo Satala complete the forward options.
Gareth Cooper, Willie Walker and Tindall are the three-quarter options.
"Sale have made a great start to the season, have the meanest defence out there at the moment and are also extremely physical," Ryan added. "When they get all the components of their game operating they are a very good side.
"Our victory last weekend was very important and now we must try and build on it. I am excited about this line-up. If we can get in the right areas of the field I am confident we can be a threat against most sides."
Tickets for Gloucester's next home Guinness Premiership fixture against Jonny Wilkinson's Newcastle are still available from 0871 871 8781 (option 2), www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk or from the ticket office at Kingsholm. The ticket office will be open on Saturday from 9am until 4pm.
GLOUCESTER (v Sale Sharks, tomorrow, 7.45pm): Iain Balshaw; James Simpson-Daniel, Matthew Watkins, Olly Barkley, Lesley Vainikolo; Ryan Lamb, Rory Lawson; Alasdair Dickinson, Olivier Azam, Dave Young, Marco Bortolami, Alex Brown, Peter Buxton (capt), Andy Hazell, Luke Narraway. Reps: Andy Titterrell, Nick Wood, Alasdair Strokosch, Apo Satala, Gareth Cooper, Mike Tindall, Willie Walker.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.