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.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Speaking to the local media after the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys gave an honest assessment of the game, and expressed his pride in the way his young charges had performed against the title-chasing hosts.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby scrum half Callum Braley is excited by the challenge of the West Country Derby, and the ex-Bristol man reveals the squad will be giving their all.
It was a thriller at Kingsholm on Sunday afternoon, as Gloucester snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, leveling the scores in the final minute before triumphing in extra time over a spirited Connacht side.
Having defeated Connacht Rugby in dramatic fashion in the first play-off for the final spot in the 2015-16 European Rugby Champions Cup, Gloucester Rugby can confirm ticketing details for next Sunday's game against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways.
Gloucester snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and move on to next weekend's European Champions Cup final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles after a dramatic extra time win over a valiant Connacht side.