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Sale Sharks prop Callum Ford has joined Coventry Rugby on a short-term loan deal and is in line to face Gloucester in Saturday’s crucial Premiership Rugby Cup pool one decider.

Cov boss Alex Rae moved quickly to add Ford to his squad after Ollie Andrews suffered an ankle injury during Saturday’s draw with Nottingham.

Unusually, the 23-year-old tight-head made one previous appearance for the blue-and-whites in similar circumstances when he appeared from the bench against Ealing at the Butts Park Arena in 2021.

Ford, who has some top-flight league exposure and is a former England under-20, also has National One experience gained with Sale FC.

Rae said he is pleased to have Ford on board and that his squad is otherwise in good shape.

“Ollie has picked up a bump – it’s nothing serious – but we needed some cover and Cal has come in from Sale Sharks,” he said.

“He’s played for us once before which is useful and we’re grateful to Sale for helping us out.

“Will Biggs is also out this weekend with a knock but Suva Ma’asi is fit so we’re generally in a good place fitness-wise.”

Rae rotated his squad to give game time to all 32 players during the four opening rounds of cup action, but he suggested that Cov will field something close to what he considers their strongest combination at Kingsholm.

“We’ve changed things around during the last month to give everyone an opportunity but I think you’ll probably see a line-up on Saturday that’s close to the one that beat Saracens,” he said.

“It’s been brilliant to get everyone involved and to see some talented young players come in, do really well and push for a starting spot and we’ll come out of this five-week block well set up for the Championship as a result.”

Making their first visit to Kingsholm since the mid-1980’s, Coventry are also this weekend seeking a first ever cup win over the Cherry-and-Whites after three previous meetings ended in two defeats and a draw.

Gloucester are currently four points ahead of Cov at the top of the pool. As a result Rae knows his team need five points while also holding their opponents to a zero return if they are to progress to the February semi-finals – but is positive about their prospects.

“It’s great to go to big grounds like Harlequins and Gloucester and we’ve really enjoyed the cup so far, but the really exciting thing is that we go to Kingholm with a chance of getting to a semi-final,” he said.

“We believe to can get the result required – the great thing about our group is that we have a very positive mindset. I’d hate us to be going there thinking we’ll throw it around and give it a good go as that’s just not us.

“We’d rather go there with a steely focus – and if we fall short, we fall short – but you can take it from me that we’re going there to give our all to getting a bonus point win.”

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