TIGHTHEAD prop Nick Schonert and scrum-half Francois Hougaard are among a cluster of stars that are expected to be back in action for Worcester Warriors next week.

The key duo have been sidelined through injury with Hougaard suffering a blow to his shoulder and Schonert sustaining knee ligament damage.

But boss Alan Solomons confirmed the influential pair returned to full training this week along with hooker Matt Moulds who has yet to play for Warriors since his summer move from Blues due to a knee problem.

Full-back Chris Pennell (leg), fly-half Duncan Weir (hand) and centre Ryan Mills (shoulder) are also set to get back in the gym tomorrow after injuries ruled them out of last Saturday’s win at Harlequins in the Gallagher Premiership.

Solomons is likely to field a largely youthful side for Friday’s European Challenge Cup opener against Enisei-STM in Russia (7pm).

But his fit-again star men are poised to be “good to go” for the following Saturday’s meeting with Castres in France.

“Mouldsy is doing well and is taking a full part in training,” Solomons said.

“Francois and Nick practised with the team that trainied on Monday and Tuesday.

“They will be off tomorrow as I don’t want them practising four days in a row and will practise on Thursday.

“They will be good to go on Monday when we start preparing for Castres.”

Hougaard injured his shoulder in the second half of Warriors’ defeat at Northampton Saints on October 26 and had been ruled out for up to a month.

Schonert faced an even longer road to recovery after tearing his medial ligament in his right knee in the loss at Bath on September 28.

But Schonert is about a month ahead of schedule and Solomons has praised the club’s medical and conditioning staff for getting the stars back fit.

“Francois has been fully into it this week as has Nick and I would imagine both of those guys will start off the bench (at Castres),” Solomons said.

“We did think Nick was going to be out for longer.

“You can never tell with these things, but he has made a good recovery.

“Full marks to our physiotherapists and our conditioners who have worked hard to get him fit again and ready to play.

“Nick has worked hard himself to recover so quickly.”

Pennell, Mills and Weir all picked up knocks in the defeat to Exeter Chiefs last week but are set to be in contention for the upcoming trip to Castres before Warriors’ attention turns to the Gallagher Premiership.

“Chris is recovering well and seems absolutely fine,” Solomons said.

“The lads that are staying behind will come in on Wednesday and Thursday to do some conditioning games and gym work.

“From Thursday lunchtime they are off until Monday which I think will do them good as we have got Castres followed by Sale (in the Premiership).

“It is great to have everybody coming back from injury. It will be really nice to have pretty much a full complement of players to choose from.”