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.
Fly-half Billy Burns was named Man of the Match after the 35-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Stade Rochelais on Thursday evening, and was full of praise for all his team mates for the win after a short turnaround.
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.
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.