ANDY HAZELL will make his first appearance since Gloucester's opening Heineken Cup defeat against Leinster in October when he returns to the number seven shirt for Sunday's Pool Two showdown against Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
The England international has recovered from a shoulder condition to return and replaces Jake Boer in Gloucester's back row.
"We are all aware of the potential impact Andy is capable producing but what has pleased me most in the last few weeks is how well we have done without such a significant individual in the side," head coach Dean Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk.
"But there is no doubt that having a player of Andy's ability back with us at this stage of the season, during a very hectic period for us, is great news.
"We didn't want to rush him back but I am sure he will be relishing the opportunity this weekend."
Hazell's return is one of two in the forwards. The other is the return of prop Nick Wood, who starts in place of the suspended Patrice Collazo at loose-head.
The rest of the pack remains unchanged from the one that helped Gloucester to a 38-22 victory over Edinburgh last weekend.
However, there are three other changes in the backline. Both Rory Lawson and Ryan Lamb come into the side at half-back and Iain Balshaw gets the number 15 jersey in place of Olly Morgan.
"We have picked the team purely for this game and we are excited about the prospect," Ryan added. "There were some encouraging aspects of our performance last weekend but we appreciate we will have to be better away from home against a very good side.
"I think I am right in saying that Edinburgh have beaten Wasps at home in this competition in the past and have already beaten Leinster this season so we are under no illusions about the intensity of this challenge and have prepared in the right way."
Gloucester will be skippered by Marco Bortolami and he will be joined by Alex Brown at lock. Hooker Olivier Azam will partner Wood and Carlos Nieto in the front row, while Buxton and Luke Narraway complete the back row alongside Hazell.
Anthony Allen and Mike Tindall, who both scored last Saturday, are in the centre, while Mark Foster and James Simpson-Daniel complete the back three alongside Balshaw.
GLOUCESTER (v Edinburgh, Sunday): Iain Balshaw; James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, Mark Foster; Ryan Lamb, Rory Lawson; Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Carlos Nieto, Marco Bortolami (Capt), Alex Brown, Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, Luke Narraway. Reps: Rob Elloway, Christian Califano, Adam Eustace, Adam Balding, Pete Richards, Willie Walker, Olly Morgan.
Northampton away was the first Gloucester game under David Humphreys last season, but the Director of Rugby told the local media that the Cherry and Whites are a different proposition compared to 12 months ago and are looking forward to the challenge.
Having skippered Gloucester against the Barbarians last week, Nick Wood once again wore the captain's armband on Monday evening as Gloucester United kicked off their Aviva Premiership A League campaign with a bonus point win at Leicester.
Gloucester recorded a 32-20 win over La Rochelle on Thursday evening, and second row Jeremy Thrush was thrilled to pick up the victory on his first taste of a trip to France and the hostile atmosphere.
Gloucester were forced to battle for their 33-20 victory in La Rochelle on Thursday evening, something that centre Bill Meakes said that he and the squad were well prepared for as well as thanking the travelling support for the part they played.
Gloucester got off to a winning start in the European Rugby Challenge Cup last weekend, but Head Coach Laurie Fisher is expecting a much tougher challenge when the Cherry and Whites travel to La Rochelle for Thursday night's Round Two encounter.
Dan Thomas was a try scorer in the 14-62 defeat at the hands of the Barbarians on Tuesday evening, but told GRTV after the game that he'd really enjoyed taking on the Barbarians and locking horns with Ardie Savea at the breakdown.
After a long, hard battle to return to fitness, Henry Trinder made his long awaited comeback in the second half of the 23-10 win over Zebre on Saturday and admitted he was taken aback by the reception he got from the Kingsholm crowd.
After missing out on Gloucester's two recent European fixtures, Jonny May is back on the left wing for Friday evening's Aviva Premiership fixture at Northampton, while Mariano Galarza is named in the matchday squad for the first time this season.