ALEX Hearle’s future could lie at outside centre according to Worcester Warriors director of rugby Alan Solomons.

Hearle has played most of his fledgling career on the wing but Solomons admits he now sees the powerful back as a midfielder.

The 20-year-old came on at centre, replacing the injured Will Butler, in the defeat at Bath before being handed the number 13 shirt for Friday’s clash with Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership Cup.

“Alex is a player we have moved,” said Solomons after the 34-19 loss to Chiefs at Sixways.

“He initially started in the academy as a wing but then there was a thought that we should look at him at outside centre.

“He played a bit at centre last season and has now had a decent run there.

“Francois (Venter) hasn’t been available, Ollie (Lawrence) played in the Bath game and as there was a six-day turnaround (for Exeter) we gave Alex another opportunity.

“He has done well.”

Shrewsbury-born Hearle, who turns 21 next month, made his Warriors debut at Wasps in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in November 2016. But with the competition for a place in the back three so strong the academy ace struggled to break into the first team, making just one outing last term.

However, Hearle’s efforts in training and performances for Worcester Cavaliers are now being rewarded.

He has featured in the opening three matches of this season and scored his first senior try in the win over Leicester Tigers.

“Alex is developing and in the infancy of his career,” Solomons said.

“He is a big, strong lad. He is committed and is only going to get better from the experience of playing. It’s no good saying that he needs experience and he doesn’t play. I think playing him in these games has been really invaluable. I look at him as a 13 that can play wing.”

Warriors are well stocked at centre with Ryan Mills, Francois Venter, Ashley Beck, Ollie Lawrence and Butler vying for a shirt.

But Solomons believes more opportunities will come Hearle’s way during the campaign.

“I would like to see him develop at outside centre,” Solomons added.

“You must remember that your two most attritional positions on the rugby field are loose forward and centre.

“Last season we had all those centres yet we finished with Wynand (Olivier) and Ben (Te’o) – that’s what was left standing.”

Wing Tom Howe, who scored a hat-trick in the defeat to Exeter, said he was not surprised to see Hearle hold his own at centre.

“Alex has had a really good pre-season and it’s great to see the academy guys that weren’t in the picture last year take that step forward,” Howe added.

“He is a freak athlete. His stats in the gym are ridiculous so he is definitely one to look out for if he continues on the right path.”