Worcester loan signing Eoghan Hickey has edged ahead in the race for the Warriors’ fly half berth for this Saturday’s crucial Guinness Premiership with Bristol.

The 27-year-old, who this time last week was still with parent club London Irish, made his debut for his new team in last weekend’s European Challenge Cup victory over Bourgoin and is in line for his second start when Mike Ruddock’s men welcome the league’s bottom club to Sixways.

But having made his debut at full back the former Munster and Leinster man is expected to step into his favoured position following an injury to and the illness of incumbent Joey Carlisle.

The Worcester academy product is one of several players who have gone down with a heavy cold in the last few days and is also feeling the legacy of a back injury picked up against the French outfit.

That – and Carlisle’s unconvincing display last Saturday – will afford Hickey the chance to perform in his preferred position and although Ruddock refused to confirm the switch, he has no fear in making it having seen the Irishman slot in at training yesterday.

“When Joey left training Eoghan stepped in at ten and ran our plays and patterns. He looked very good,” Ruddock said. “I talked to Chris Latham afterwards and asked him what he thought of the way Eoghan conducted himself and he was very impressed. It is obvious he has worked at a high level organising people around him. That augurs well for us.”

If Hickey does start at ten against Bristol it will for the first time in the Premiership for nearly two months and end another period of inactivity. A lack of regular rugby forced him out of both Leinster and then Munster and also led to this six-week loan at Sixways.

Ruddock is confident he can make an impact during his time with Worcester.

“He has been on the fringes where ever he has been but having said that he has a lot of experience,” he said. “In the modern game there are a lot players around who are in and out of teams because they are rotated. Sometimes you can be a very, very good player but you can be in a team where there are fantastic players ahead of you.”

Meanwhile, Coventry have released prop Dai Maddocks at the player’s request. The Welshman has been injured for most of the season.