Former England wing Chris Ashton will make his eagerly-anticipated debut for Warriors in Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm.

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Ashton joined Warriors from Harlequins last month and was in line to play against Newcastle Falcons last week until the match was cancelled after positive COVID-19 tests in the Falcons camp.

Ashton goes into the match just four tries away from equalling Tom Varndell’s Premiership career record of 92 and he will be facing Gloucester at Kingsholm for the second time this season having played for Harlequins there in a victory on December 6.

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Warriors have made four more changes to their starting XV with GJ van Velze named at number eight for his first appearance since he dislocated a shoulder against Exeter Chiefs six months ago.

South Africa international scrum-half Francois Hougaard has recovered from a shoulder injury that ruled him out of the matches at Leicester Tigers and and home to Wasps.

Oli Morris returns in the centre to partner Francois Venter and Andrew Kitchener, who came off the bench against Wasps, will renew his second row pairing with Justin Clegg and make his first Premiership start since Boxing Day.

Fly-half Fin Smith, who was an unused replacement against Wasps, is again named on the bench and will become only the second 18-year-old to play for Warriors in the Premiership if he makes his debut.

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Smith, a member of the Three Pears Academy, will be 18 years and 292 days old on Saturday. Lock Graham Kitchener was 18 years and 195 days old when he played against Wasps in April 2008.

Warriors:
15 Chris Pennell, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Nick David, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Francois Hougaard, 1 Ethan Waller, 2 Niall Annett, 3 Nick Schonert, 4 Andrew Kitchener, 5 Justin Clegg, 6 Ted Hill (C), 7 Matt Kvesic, 8 GJ van Velze.

Replacements:
16 Isaac Miller, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 George Merrick, 20 Joe Batley, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Fin Smith, 23 Ashley Beck.

Unavailable:
Anton Bresler, Matt Cox, Alex Hearle, Noah Heward, Lewis Holsey, Sam Lewis, Marco Mama, Matt Moulds, Melani Nanai, Billy Searle, Duncan Weir, Matti Williams. International duty | Cornell du Preez, Ollie Lawrence.?

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