WORCESTER Warriors boss Alan Solomons expects first-choice scrum-half Francois Hougaard to be back fit for their next Aviva Premiership test at Sale Sharks on Saturday, March 24.

Back row Sam Lewis (hamstring) and South African international Hougaard (ankle) were ruled out of last Sunday’s Leicester Tigers league clash, which Warriors lost 34-5 at Sixways, due to injury.

Versatile back Ryan Mills (ankle) hobbled off midway through the first half and scrum-half Luke Baldwin (knee) left the field on a stretcher with 20 minutes to go ahead of a week off for the squad.

Director of rugby Solomons said: “Francois should be 100 per cent by the time we get back so he should be fine (for the Sale game) and we have got to try to keep him fit and healthy right through until the end of the season which would be good.

“We are fortunate that Mikey Dowsett is better and we have still got Jonny Arr so we have got three scrum-halves because it doesn’t look good for Balders.”

Solomons is looking forward to the return of Ben Te’o, who starts against France today, from England duty after the Six Nations but was impressed by the display of young centre prospect Will Butler against Tigers.

After Mills went off injured, Solomons chose not to move the experienced Chris Pennell to centre and instead brought on 19-year-old Butler.

He said: “Obviously when the Six Nations ends Ben comes back to us so that is another positive as we are short in midfield.

“It was good to see Will come on against Leicester and do well. We know he can come on and do a job at Premiership level so that was a positive.

“We had a number of alternatives but in terms of the way the game was being played I thought our normal back three worked well with Penns at full-back. Will did splendidly.

“Matt Toomua was doing quite a bit of kicking so I think it made sense to swap like for like at that particular point.”

Solomons named club captain Donncha O’Callaghan on the bench as Will Spencer started alongside Darren Barry in the second row.

The Worcester boss added: “Donncha has started regularly.

“Spenny hasn’t been starting, he has had a break so was fresh. Darren is reasonably fresh as well.

“Although Donncha has played the front 40 minutes he has played every game of the three so for him to come off the bench made sense in this match.”