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.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).