After an unbeaten start to the season, Sale Sharks now find themselves ten points behind Saracens in the Gallagher Premiership. Losing both of their last two matches against Harlequins and Saracens, Alex Sanderson will be hoping his team, with international absentees, can get back to winning ways.

Tom Curry, Jonny Hill and Manu Tuilagi are all starting for England in the Autumn Internationals opener against Argentina. Raffi Quirke, Tom Roebuck and Bevan Rodd have returned to club rugby this week after training with the squad. Roebuck goes straight back into the first 15, Quirke and Rodd are amongst the substitutes.

Fourth placed Gloucester who have won their last three matches are also missing players through international duty, so Saturday’s clash at the AJ Bell stadium will be a test to see how both teams fair without key players.

With the Six Nations being played in a few months, talks are ongoing to move fixtures so club rugby is less affected by player absentees. Sanderson says that’s a sensible option: “I would be in favour of it because you get your better players back, better crowd attendance and better quality.”

Labelled as surprise title contenders after their flying start to the season, recent results show the occasion and spotlight for Sale is getting to them. Coming up short against Saracens and Harlequins has opened a gap at the top of the table from the chasing pack. Only four points ahead of Gloucester and having played two more matches, a loss this weekend could see Sale drop to fourth, with the season then looking completely different compared to two weeks ago.

Last seasons fixtures produced two close games, Sale winning by two points at home and losing by one point away. Neither of Sales’ summer acquisitions from Gloucester, Joe Simpson and Jason Woodward, are in the squad.

Due to Worcester’s administration, Sale have a three week break between league matches. Returning to Gallagher Premiership action on the 26th of November against Bristol Bears, Sale face Harlequins in two weeks’ time in the cup.

The full squad can be found below.