EXPERIENCED flanker Phil Dowson is an injury concern for Worcester Warriors’ crucial Aviva Premiership clash against Newcastle Falcons.

The 34-year-old former Northampton Saints star was taken off with a hip injury in the second-half of Warriors’ 24-22 derby defeat against Gloucester at Kingsholm.

Dowson has been in superb form for Worcester and is one of the league’s leading tacklers after the opening three rounds of fixtures.

Dowson started his professional career at Newcastle, making 96 appearances for Falcons during a successful eight-year spell in the north-east.

Warriors’ director of rugby Dean Ryan will be keen to have Dowson’s experience on the field for Worcester’s biggest match of the campaign so far on Saturday (3pm).

Ryan said: “Dowson got a bang on the hip and was starting to struggle to move so that wasn’t a call on anything. We are not targeting games or anything like that.

“We are going to be competitive every week because we think we can and I think we have proved that across the opening three weeks.

“We have been on the road for two weeks which has been tough for us and we’re back home on Saturday and are looking forward to it.”

Skipper Gerrit-Jan van Velze was Worcester’s top tackler against Gloucester with 16. Warriors are 10th in the table with five points from three matches.

However, Falcons are at the bottom, alongside London Irish, without a point.

Falcons crashed to a 41-3 home defeat against Exeter Chiefs last Sunday and have shipped an average of 40.6 points from their opening three games.

They conceded an average of 24.7 points per game in their 22 Premiership outings last term and parted ways with defence coach Graham Steadman in the summer.

Falcons’ director of rugby Dean Richard is refusing to ramp up the pressure ahead of the Sixways clash.

“If it was February or March time I would look a bit more closely, but at this stage of the season I have no thoughts on that at all,” he said.

“Worcester is important and so are the ones that come after. We have two big European games and we are then back into the Premiership.”