James Simpson-Daniel is back for Gloucester tomorrow
Bruce Seabrook/GPA Images
GLOUCESTER will welcome back two of their brightest attacking threats for their derby against Worcester tomorrow (3pm).
Both James Simpson-Daniel and Ryan Lamb will return to the starting line-up following hamstring and ankle injuries respectively and are a significant boost to Dean Ryan's side as they aim to bounce back from Sunday's 24-22 defeat against Saracens.
The pair were both injured against Sale last month and have not played since. Jon Goodridge starts at full-back in place of Olly Morgan, who is on duty with England and he will make his first Premiership start of the season in the number 15 jersey.
"There are obviously injuries knocking around the squad at the moment but to have two players like James and Ryan available for a game of this intensity and importance is great for us," Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"Both are excellent players, both provide a real attacking threat and that will be crucial to us."
Lamb comes in for Ludovic Mercier at stand-off and Simpson-Daniel replaces James Bailey. Jack Adams replaces Anthony Allen, who suffered a knock to the head last Sunday and is ruled out through injury.
Scrum-half Peter Richards also earns a start in place of Rory Lawson, who is with Scotland.
The forwards also have a settled feel and there are only two changes from the eight that started against Saracens.
Nick Wood comes in at loosehead prop and Christian Califano switches to tighthead in place of Carlos Nieto, who is on international duty with Italy.
But it is the number eight position that has caused a problem or two for Ryan this week. James Forrester is expected to be out of action for up to three weeks with a dislocation of his thumb, Jake Boer picked up a heavy knock to the head last Sunday and Luke Narraway returned from the England Sevens squad with a hamstring injury.
It means Ryan has named Adam Eustace at number eight instead of his usual second row position.
They are filled by Will James and Alex Brown, while Peter Buxton and Andy Hazell are the flankers.
"There is no getting away from the fact we have been disrupted by injuries, particularly at number eight, but we are looking forward to this game," Ryan added.
"Worcester have a great forward pack and aim to put a lot of pressure on so we need to try and break things up because we don't want to stay in a driving contest against a side who are good at it.
"But home form is important to us, we will have great crowd support and if we can get the balance in our game right and play with good ambition, I am sure it will be a good game."
On the bench, Gloucester's forward options are Jack Forster, hooker Mefin Davies, lock Jonathan Pendlebury and flanker James Merriman.
The three-quarter options are scrum-half Haydn Thomas, Mercier and Bailey.
GLOUCESTER (v Worcester, tomorrow 3pm): Jon Goodridge; James Simpson-Daniel, Rudi Keil, Jack Adams, Mark Foster; Ryan Lamb, Peter Richards; Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Christian Califano, Will James, Alex Brown, Peter Buxton (capt), Andy Hazell, Adam Eustace. Reps: Jack Forster, Mefin Davies, Jonathan Pendlebury, James Merriman, Ludovic Mercier, Haydn Thomas, James Bailey.
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.