Preview: Sale v Worcester

Date published: February 9 2012

Andrew Sheridan and Mark Cueto return to Sale's starting line-up for Friday's Aviva Premiership home clash with Worcester.

England duo Andrew Sheridan and Mark Cueto return to Sale's starting XV for Friday's Aviva Premiership game against Worcester at Edgeley Park.

Sheridan last played for the club against Exeter Chiefs on Good Friday, whereas Cueto's last appearance was more recent – Boxing Day – when he scored a try. James Gaskell, David Seymour and Kearnan Myall return from duty with the Saxons, whilst Hendre Fourie switches flanks.

“We're really looking forward to our return to Aviva Premiership action. During training this week, a step up in intensity among the guys has been evident. This game against the Warriors will be a benchmark to see how far we've progressed since our meeting on the opening day of the season,” said head coach Tony Hanks.

“It's great to have our Saxons players back available for selection, together with Andrew Sheridan. The medical staff have done a great job getting him back in shape, and it's testament to the hard work that Andrew's put in that he's able to return slightly ahead of schedule. He's been buzzing this week. Hendre Fourie, too, has made a great impression upon his return, and there's great competition for places here now.”

Meanwhile, number eight Blair Cowan will make his Aviva Premiership debut as Worcester Warriors resume league action with a televised away trip north to Edgeley Park.

Cowan, who signed from Cornish Pirates last month, has impressed in the LV= Cup in recent weeks and is now given his full league debut as Warriors aim to make it three successive Aviva Premiership victories.

Head coach Richard Hill also makes changes at half-back from the side that defeated Gloucester last month as experienced duo Andy Goode and Shaun Perry, who will captain the team from scrum-half, team up.

Prop George Porter is rewarded for a number of eye-catching displays with a place among the replacements along with Danny Gray and Ravai Fatiaki, who this week both signed new deals at Warriors.

“This is a crucial game for both teams as they will want to return to winnings ways in the league and we know a win would put us close to them in the standings,” said Hill.

“This week, with Phil Larder back, we feel we are back on track with our defence and if we can combine that with the attack of recent weeks then we should move on another level in terms of our performance.

“The conditions up north could dictate the game. If we get snow and bad conditions under foot, then maybe the attacking rugby will have to take a back seat to the more pragmatic and territorial game.

“If we can reach the level of performance we did against Gloucester then there is an opportunity to get a positive result. However, Sale are a difficult team and they might be bolstered by the return of some key players so I expect them to put a big pack out against us.”

The teams:

Sale: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou (capt), 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Mark Easter, 7 David Seymour, 6 Hendre Fourie, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Andrei Ostrikov, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Lee Imiolek, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Richie Vernon, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Will Addison, 23 Luther Burrell.

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Dale Rasmussen, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Shaun Perry (capt), 8 Blair Cowan, 7 Jake Abbott, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Chris Jones, 4 James Percival, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 George Porter, 17 Ed Shervington, 18 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.

Date: Friday, February 10
Kick-off: 20:00
Venue: Edgeley Park
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)