IN-FORM fly-half Sam Olver is showing why Worcester Warriors’ coaches should have backed him at the start of the season.

That’s the view of director of rugby Gary Gold who blames himself for not selecting Olver for Warriors’ Aviva Premiership opener at Newcastle Falcons.

After an impressive pre-season, the 23-year-old failed to secure a starting spot for the trip to Newcastle as Warriors went down 35-8.

But Gold insists Olver has “come back stronger”, racking up seven appearances, including three in the league.

The stand-off, who joined from Northampton Saints in the summer, produced a man-of-the-match display in the 27-20 loss at Oyonnax last weekend.

And Olver is expected to be named in the 23-man squad for Worcester’s bottom-of-the-table battle with London Irish on Friday (7.45pm).

“I must take some responsibility for Sam,” Gold said.

“He did start his Warriors career very well against Hartpury and Munster and in hindsight he maybe should have been involved against Newcastle in the first game.

“I think I owed him that as he was the in-form 10 at the time and we should have just backed him. I have told him that.

“He has found his form again and come back stronger, is more confident and his all-round game is really good.

“He is an unbelievably brave guy for the size of his frame and played well in both games against Oyonnax.”

Gold admitted there were several other players who put their hand up for selection ahead of their clash with Irish.

Chris Pennell is likely to return to full-back after a stint at centre while forwards David Denton, Alafoti Fa’osiliva and Pierce Phillips are all set to be involved.

Many first-team regulars who were rested for the European Challenge Cup double-header are expected to come back.

Flanker Sam Lewis has recovered from a broken nose and number eight Gerrit-Jan van Velze is over a rib injury.

But scrum-half Francois Hougaard and tighthead prop Nick Schonert are “touch and go” for the encounter with Irish who are six points behind Warriors.

“We were already thin in certain areas so the matches against Northampton, Leicester and Sale did take their toll,” Gold said.

“The timing of the European cup window was good but it was always our plan to give the other guys we had a lot of confidence in a run-out in the competition.

“I don’t think I have made it a secret that we really want to give Europe a proper go and I’m really happy these guys saw this as the opportunity to put their hands up which they did.”

Gold was also impressed by Worcester Cavaliers’ performance last Sunday as they beat a strong Newcastle Falcons side 35-29 at Sixways.

“I doubt they are going to jump from an A League game on a Sunday straight into the starting Premiership team,” Gold added.

“But there are certainly some guys in that team that we have grown a lot more trust in and I feel a lot of them are not far off playing Premiership rugby for the club.”