DIRECTOR of rugby Alan Solomons is planning to turn to Worcester Warriors’ homegrown talent to provide competition with “three senior locks” next season.

Solomons has backed academy products Andrew Kitchener, 22, Justin Clegg, 22, and James Scott, 19, to step up and challenge for a first-team spot in the 2019-20 campaign.

But with Graham Kitchener, 29, who is due to arrive from Leicester Tigers this summer, Anton Bresler, 30, and Michael Fatialofa, 26, the only experienced second rows contracted for next term Solomons’ pledge to give youth a chance casts doubt over the futures of Pierce Phillips, 26, and Darren Barry, 29.

The duo’s current deals are due to expire at the end of this term with Phillips linked with a move to Top 14 outfit Agen.

“Andrew has already made the step up (to the first team) and will be challenging,” Solomons said. “Hopefully Cleggy will overcome his problems as he has had a stress fracture to his back so he will be there and young James is coming through the academy.

"(Next season) we will have three senior locks and three good youngsters.

“I have said to you before that the academy is very important. It has been key to our re-signings so I am really happy that we have kept all our young guys here.”

Andrew Kitchener, Clegg and Scott have represented England at under 20 level and played for Worcester this season.

Birmingham-born Clegg, an ex-Bromsgrove School student, made his Warriors debut in an Anglo-Welsh Cup clash with Bristol in November 2016 and was promoted to the senior squad last summer.

Scott, who previously studied at Bishops’ Blue Coat High School in Hereford before moving to Malvern College, made his Warriors bow in November last year when he came off the bench in the Premiership Cup defeat at Saracens.

“We are talking about boys that have played for England under 20s so we have got some really good forwards here,” Solomons said.

“Those senior academy boys are with us all the time. I regard them as being part of the first-team squad.”

Solomons also believes Kitchener will benefit from having his older brother Graham, who is also an academy graduate, back at Warriors.

The 22-year-old, who joined Worcester’s youth set-up in 2014, has made 28 appearances for Warriors over the past three seasons with 10 of those coming this term.

But he has remained in the academy while he completes a degree in economics at the University of Birmingham.

“He will have his degree pretty much wrapped (soon),” Solomons said. “Last year it was difficult for him as he was a full-time student but still played some good rugby for us.

“He picked up an injury to his knee but hopefully within the next two or three weeks he will be back on the pitch. He is a really talented young player.”

Shrewsbury-born Kitchener stands at 6ft 7in and Solomons is confident he will “fill out” as he continues to build up his strength.

“Andrew is a young guy and we will work on his conditioning,” Solomons added.

“He is going to be a big boy.

“I think he can play either four or five to be honest. He is highly intelligent so will have no difficulty calling the lineouts.

“He was charged with that responsibility last year when we played the Dragons in an Anglo-Welsh Cup game and he did very well.”