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Northampton Saints v Gloucester - LV= Cup match preview
Experienced flanker Andy Hazell is back after suspension for Gloucester's LV= Cup clash at Northampton on Saturday, in a side skippered by Peter Buxton which also sees Lua Lokotui make his debut for the club.
Hazell and Buxton provide the wily know-how in a line-up which is a blend of youth and experience.
Tongan international second-row Lokotui makes his debut for the club having flown into the country last Sunday.
There is also a first start of the season for Ryan Mills, the England Under-20 international, following close-season knee surgery.
Gloucester have won one and lost one from their two matches in the competition so far this season, so the game at Franklin's Gardens is a must win if the club is to have a chance of progressing to the semi-final stage.
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 James Wilson, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Tom May, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 Rhys Oakley, 7 Phil Dowson, (capt), 6 Samu Monoa, 5 Christian Day, 4 Mark Sorenson, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Soane Tonga'uiha, 18 Ethan Waller, 19 James Craig, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Tom Collins.
Gloucester: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Steph Reynolds, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Dave Lewis; 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Andy Hazell,6 Peter Buxton (capt), 5 Elliott Stooke; 4 Lua Lokotui,3 Dario Chistolini; 2 Koree Britton, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso d'Apice, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Tom Heard, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Rob Cook.
What they said...
Gloucester forwards coach Carl Hogg
"We're looking to be successful in every competition, and we're obviously looking to win the game at the weekend," he said.
"It's a competitive group and we've got it all to do. We've got Saints away and then Bath at home, so it's tough. But we go to Franklin's Gardens in good heart and will be looking to go up there and perform at our best.
"The LV= Cup is a competition where you can take a look at some of our younger players. Our senior players can also get some game time and help bring on our youngsters.
"That's key not just for this season, but also going forward. Saints are big and physical and always go well at Franklin's Gardens. It will be a stern test but one we're looking forward to."
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder
"We worked hard to get to the top of our pool and we want to stay there," he said. "The LV= Cup has been a good competition for us in the past few years and another win would take us one step closer to the semi-finals.
"Gloucester have been going well in the competition, too, so it is not going to be easy for us. But training has been positive, the players are focused and are all looking to move forward with a good result."
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|Saturday 31st January|
|14:40||Harlequins vs Bath|
|15:00||Leicester vs Northampton|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Ospreys|
|18:30||Scarlets vs London Irish|
|Sunday 1st February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Cardiff Blues|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Saracens|
|14:30||Dragons vs Exeter|
|15:00||Newcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks|
|Saturday 7th February|
|14:00||Sale Sharks vs Scarlets|
|14:30||Cardiff Blues vs Leicester Tigers|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Bath vs Ospreys|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Sunday 8th February|
|14:30||Dragons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Saracens vs Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com