Aviva Premiership team news: Peter Stringer starts for Worcester

The Aviva Premiership is back this weekend with just four points separating first and eighth in a congested league table ahead of the fourth round.

No team has gone through the opening three weeks without suffering defeat, while Worcester are the only team yet to post a victory.

It kicks off Friday at the Kingsholm with Johan Ackermann's Gloucester hosting the Warriors before a repeat of last year's final between Exeter and Wasps wraps up the round Sunday.

Get all the team news below and keep abreast of the action with ESPN.


Gloucester vs. Worcester Warriors

Kingsholm, 7.45 p.m.

Billy Burns returns at fly-half for Gloucester having missed the loss against Leicester with a knee injury. Burns' return is one of four changes Johan Ackermann has handed Rapava Ruskin his first start against his former club, while Freddie Clarke and Mark Atkinson return.

For Worcester, Gary Gold has handed a first start to veteran Ireland scrum-half Peter Stringer in the absence of Jonny Arr. Stringer will partner former Gloucester playmaker Ryan Mills in the halfbacks while Alafoti Faosiliva -- who scored a try against the All Blacks for Samoa in 2015 -- slots into the back row. Summer signing David Denton is poised to debut from the bench.


Bath vs. Newcastle Falcons

Recreation Ground, 3 p.m.

Freddie Burns will make his first Premiership start for Bath at fullback, replacing the injured Anthony Watson who misses out with a knee problem. Burns' inclusion is one of eight changes made by Todd Blackadder, with Nick Auterac and Jack Walker starting in the front row, Luke Charteris returning at lock while Taulupe Faletau is rested -- Paul Grant his replacement at No. 8.

Canada's record try-scorer DTH van der Merwe makes his debut for Newcastle after missing the side's opening games. Brothers Santiago Socino and Juan Pablo Socino also come into the side while Craig Willis starts at fly-half for the first time this season. Will Witty also slots into the side to round off the five changes made from the Falcons team who faced Saracens in the U.S.

Harlequins vs. Leicester Tigers

Twickenham Stoop, 3 p.m.

Harlequins have made three changes, all of which come in the front row. Mark Lambert replaces the injured Joe Marler, who picked up a rib injury last time out against Wasps. Will Collier also comes into the side in place of Kyle Sinckler, who is on the bench, while Rob Buchanan returns at hooker after shaking off an injury to his shoulder.

Leicester have also made changes to their front row, with Dom Barrow and Dominic Ryan returning to the pack. Tom Brady has returned to full training with the Tigers, but remains sidelined along with Manu Tuilagi, George McGuigan and Adam Thompstone.

Saracens vs. Sale Sharks

Allianz Park, 3 p.m.

George Kruis returns to the second row for Saracens after missing the last two matches with an ankle injury, while Marcelo Bosch looks set to make his 100th appearance for the club at centre. Owen Farrell captains the side as regular skipper Brad Barritt is rested.

The Sharks will also be without their regular captain, with Will Addison out with a hamstring problem while Mike Haley returns to the starting XV after being benched last weekend. Tom Curry replaces bother Ben at No. 7 while Byron McGuigan returns to the bench.


Exeter Chiefs vs. Wasps

Sandy Park, 3 p.m.

Chiefs captain Jack Yeandle and fullback Phil Dollman are out with injury, bringing Elvis Taione and Lachie Turner into the starting 15 with Sam Skinner for Jonny Hill in the second row.

For Wasps, Jimmy Gopperth returns at fly-half along with Joe Simpson. The starting front row is unchanged and Matt Symons returns to the second row after missing last weekend through illness. Willie Le Roux [hamstring] and Gaby Lovobalavu [calf] are also sidelined this weekend.

London Irish vs. Northampton Saints

Madjeski Stadium, 3 p.m.

Johnny Williams returns to the London Irish starting line-up after recovering from a hamstring injury at the end of last season, and is one of five changes to the side. Napolioni Nalaga looks set for his debut. In the forward pack, Petrus du Plessis replaces Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi in the front row, Josh McNally is also in for Mike Coman at blindside flanker, with Conor Gilsenan at openside flanker while Blair Cowan switches to No. 8.

Saints have Sam Dickinson coming in for Teimana Harrison as their only change from the side that beat Bath last weekend.