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Wales' Taulupe Faletau back for Bath in Aviva Premiership clash with Bristol

Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau will return for Bath in the Aviva Premiership clash with Bristol at the Recreation Ground on Friday night.

Faletau's participation will put him into contention for the Test against South Africa on November 26.

The 25-year-old has not featured for his club since the opening weekend of the season in early September when he suffered a knee injury on his debut against Northampton.

Despite his ongoing rehabilitation, Faletau, capped 61 times for Wales, was included in the autumn internationals squad.

After being released to train with Bath for the crunch match against local rivals Bristol, Faletau is scheduled to return to the Wales squad at the start of next week in the build-up to the Test against the Springboks in Cardiff.

Albeit possibly shortlived, Bath will go top of the Premiership table with victory over a Bristol side which finally gained their first win of the season when they beat Sale Sharks in the Anglo-Welsh Cup last week.

Bath's Max Clark will return at outside centre following his injury lay-off, while Australian Ben Tapuai has been named on the bench following his arrival from Super Rugby side Western Force.

Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder said: "I t is great to have Taulupe Faletau and Max Clark back amongst the mix.

"We have actually had a bit of a selection headache this week, which was an interesting change for us.

"We have got to pick ourselves back up after the disappointing start to the Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign and get back on the horse for this next block of crucial Aviva Premiership games.

"We know how much this game means to our supporters, and we are going to do all we can to make sure they leave the Rec with a smile on their face tomorrow night."

Bristol will head into a first Premiership game since rugby director Andy Robinson departed the club.

Despite having lost all seven league games so far, acting head coach Mark Tainton is remaining upbeat.

"The guys are in positive spirits following last weekend's victory, but we have to back that up with a performance against Bath in the Premiership," he said.

"These are the sort of games that players relish; a local derby in front of a full house and live, so it will be a fantastic atmosphere."

Friday's other matches see Northampton take on struggling Worcester at Sixways, while Newcastle host Exeter.

Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards wants his players to remain focused at Kingston Park, which looks set for a biggest home crowd of the season, with Northumbria University to play Hartpury College beforehand.

Richards said: " An atmosphere like that is amazing, and it does get inside the players' heads.

"As a coach you almost have to check yourself and distance yourself from it, you have to remain focused when it's game time, but there is no doubting the fact that a full, loud stadium is a massive advantage for us."


From Belfast Telegraph