Scotland international Euan Murray returns to the Newcastle Falcons front-row for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership trip to Bath (kick-off 2.15pm).
Murray, who played in last weekend’s RBS 6 Nations defeat to England, is one of four changes as the Falcons begin their Premiership survival bid.
Corne Uys is out with a rib injury and is replaced by Jamie Helleur at outside centre while in the pack Grant Shiells and Will Welch round off the changes.
Andrew van der Heijden makes a welcome return to the bench after being sidelined with a knee injury and Matt Thompson has a place amongst the replacements following a shoulder injury.
Falcons director of rugby, Gary Gold said: “I have a great bunch of guys here and to a man I do not think that there is a guy who is not desperate to get back to winning ways. There is a lot of hard work ahead of us and we are continuously hampered by injuries but unfortunately the world of sport is like that.
“It is no good moaning and groaning about it, it is just the way that it is and we have to adapt to it the best that we can. I am really encouraged with the attitude of the guys on the training field and the intensity in the sessions has increased quite a lot so hopefully the pressure they are put under is training can be emulated in the games.”
Bath sit two places above the Falcons in tenth but three wins on the bounce in both the Heineken Cup and LV= Cup has boosted confidence for the West Country outfit.
Gold is expecting a stern test from Sir Ian McGeechan’s unit, adding: “Bath have turned their season around with some good wins in their last few outings.
“Their confidence is going to be high and I think Sir Ian McGeechan has done a very good job down there – we are certainly going to have our hands full this weekend.
“It is going to be as tough as it was at Leicester last week if not tougher and the guys realise that. We are going to have to front up this weekend and I really hope that we can put up a good showing.
“If we keep improving in the areas that we have identified then hopefully the scoreboard reflects that. Bath are a team that like to move the ball efficiently around the park and they ask questions about your defence.
“They have some good runners such as Matthew Banahan, Nick Abendanon and Tom Biggs so they are going to be a tough prospect.”
Newcastle: 15 Greg Goosen, 14 Ryan Shortland, 13 Jamie Helleur, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Suka Hufanga, 10 Jimmy Gopperth (c), 9 Chris Pilgrim, 1 Grant Shiells, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Euan Murray, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 5 Tim Swinson, 6 Will Welch, 7 Ally Hogg, 8 Mark Wilson
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Jonny Golding, 18 James Hall, 19 Andrew van der Heijden, 20 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Tom Bedford