DIRECTOR of rugby Gary Gold admitted some of his Worcester Warriors players had been left “broken” by their Aviva Premiership battles.

Scrum-half Francois Hougaard, tighthead prop Nick Schonert and flanker Sam Lewis suffered blows in Warriors’ bruising 18-14 defeat to 14-man Sale Sharks last Friday.

And the trio now look set to miss Worcester’s European Challenge Cup double-header with Oyonnax over the next two weeks.

Schonert hobbled off with what appeared to be a hip issue in the closing moments against Sale and Gold said the front rower looked in “a bit of trouble”.

Although Hougaard played the full 80 minutes, Gold feared the South African sustained a “bad knock” to his knee.

And he confirmed Lewis had broken his nose in the encounter with Sharks at Sixways as he was replaced by Christian Scotland-Williamson on 54 minutes.

Worcester have set their sights on qualification from their European Challenge Cup group and find themselves in second position after beating Brive 30-20 and picking up a losing bonus point from a 15-8 loss at Connacht.

But with their “massive” league clash with London Irish set to take place at Sixways later this month, Warriors are expected to rest a number of their big-hitters for their back-to-back games against Oyonnax.

“We will get back to work on Monday, reflect on where we made poor decisions and get straight back onto the horse and carry on working,” Gold said.

“We have got a couple of European games now where we are still in the hunt in that competition.

“There are some sore bodies so this might be an opportunity to give one or two guys a bit of time off and then we have got a massive game against London Irish here.”

Warriors host Oyonnax on Saturday (3pm) before travelling to the French side a week on Friday.

“We need to rest a few players because I think they are broken,” Gold continued.

“Sammy broke his nose, Francois got a bad knock to the knee but still managed to continue and it looks like Nick is in a bit of trouble.

“Next weekend we have got a game here against a European team and it’s an opportunity to win a game of rugby and continue to improve.

“We have never said we were the finished article by a long way, that’s why I have said it was impoirtant that we kept our feet on the ground.

“I don’t think my players took Sale lightly as that’s a very good team.”

Warriors moved six points clear of bottom club London Irish who slumped to a 39-15 defeat at Gloucester on Saturday.

But Gold was frustrated his side did not open up a bigger gap having failed to make their numerical advantage count against Sale.

“I don’t want to play rugby games to pick up one losing bonus point,” Gold added.

“I want to win rugby games, so I am just bitterly disappointed that we didn’t win the game when we gave ourselves an opportunity to do it.”