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Richard Hill's Worcester host Sale Sharks on Friday
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Richard Hill's Worcester host Sale Sharks on Friday

Worcester boss Richard Hill believes he will send his strongest matchday squad of the season into battle with Aviva Premiership strugglers Sale Sharks on Friday night.

Although Sale broke their dismal losing sequence with a Heineken Cup success against Cardiff Blues 11 days ago, they have not won a league game this season. Worcester, meanwhile, resume league business on the back of scoring 175 points in two Amlin Challenge Cup games.

"There are changes this week, and it is only fair if players have worked hard that they are given a chance," said Hill. "We will have our most powerful squad out this season. The injury list has got gradually smaller and we only have a handful of players ruled out."

He added: "That brings nice problems and I have real competition for places. It means one or two very good players will miss out, but I do expect them to come off the bench and make an impact."

Former Sale forwards Dean Schofield and Chris Jones are among those on bench duty, with prop Matt Mullan captaining a Worcester team that sees wing Errie Classens, scrum-half Paul Hodgson and lock Craig Gillies making their first starts of the Premiership campaign.

Sale have made the worst start by any team to a Premiership season since Rotherham nine years ago, but rugby director Bryan Redpath believes they cannot let their current league position distract them.

"It's a massive match for us and we've got to make sure that we are focused on the game, not on the table," Redpath said.

"Our emphasis is to be very disciplined and be clear about our game plan. Away matches like this are tough and Friday evening will be a massive challenge for us."

Redpath has made eight changes of personnel from the side beaten 33-18 by Heineken Cup opponents Montpellier last weekend, but Danny Cipriani remains at fly-half.

The switches include centres Johnny Leota and Sam Tuitupou returning to action, as does Scotland lock Richie Gray, while England Under-20 prop Ross Harrison makes his first start in the front row alongside hooker Tommy Taylor and tighthead Tony Buckley.

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