TIGHTHEAD prop Nick Schonert and scrum-half Francois Hougaard are expected to be in prime condition for Worcester Warriors’ crunch clash with London Irish.

The duo suffered blows in Warriors’ home 18-14 defeat to Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership last Friday, which sparked concerns over their fitness.

Schonert had to be helped off the field while Hougaard received treatment for a knee problem late on against Sale before completing the full 80 minutes.

But head coach Carl Hogg has eased fears over their injuries, insisting Hougaard was “fine” and Schonert had sustained a “classic back spasm”.

However, the pair are unlikely to feature in their back-to-back European Challenge Cup games against Oyonnax as Warriors look to get their stars prepared for their blockbuster encounter with relegation rivals Irish on Friday, December 22.

“We have picked up a few knocks, but no significant injuries,” said Hogg whose side host Oyonnax on Saturday (3pm).

“That’s the nature of the Aviva Premiership as there is a physical contest every single weekend.

“It’s probably the right time in the season with this European break to just freshen up some of the guys who have been in the front line.

“But on the other hand it is an opportunity for young guys that are desperate to do well and put their hand up.

“Nick has a classic back spasm so he is getting treated for it.

“We don’t see it having a long-term potential impact on him so we are very grateful for that.

“It is something that we can turnaround in the next week or two.

“We have assessed some players that have picked up one or two bumps and bruises and we are looking to manage them.

“Francois is fine, so considering the three games we have come through with a reasonably clean bill of health which is fantastic.”

Flanker Sam Lewis is also likely to miss Saturday's game after director of rugby Gary Gold confirmed the Welshman sustained a broken nose against Sale - although the club have yet to confirm how long he would be out for.

Hogg is also upbeat about getting Gerrit-Jan van Velze back available for Warriors’ battle with bottom club Irish.

The number eight was forced off with a rib injury in Worcester’s 31-27 win at Leicester Tigers in late November and his condition was reviewed last Thursday.

“GJ has got an injury to his ribs,” Hogg added.

“He picked that up in the game so it is going to take a little bit of time.

“This gives him a window of opportunity to come out of the firing line and make sure he is rested and recovered properly.”