Danny Barnes starts at centre for this Sunday’s Aviva Premiership clash with London Irish at Kingston Park (kick-off 3pm).
Barnes, 24, joined the Falcons from Munster during the summer, but an elbow injury sustained in the 15-14 victory at Sale Sharks in September put paid to the start of his season.
Now the former Ireland Under-20s hotshot has been handed a starting berth alongside Adam Powell at the heart of the Falcons backline.
Barnes is one of seven changes to the side that played in Brive last weekend as the Falcons look to make it back-to-back wins in the Premiership following their 16-11 triumph at Worcester Warriors earlier this month.
Full-back Alex Tait returns after recovering from a virus, while Tom Catterick replaces Sean Brown on the wing. Meanwhile, Rory Clegg and Mike Blair form the half-back combination, a partnership that has earned the latter a place in Opta’s Team of the Season so far.
In the pack there are two changes, with the experienced heads of Italian international Carlo del Fava and stand in skipper Ally Hogg getting the nod.
Club captain Will Welch is amongst the replacements and is set to make his 100th appearance for the Falcons this weekend.
Head coach Peter Russell said: “London Irish will bring something different to proceedings, something that we haven’t seen from any other team so far this season.
“They have the ability to move the ball across the field and exploit space very quickly – they also have tenacity around the pitch, and they’re certainly an aggressive team.
“It’s going to be a real battle out there on Sunday.”
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Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Tom Catterick, 13 Danny Barnes, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Mike Blair, 1 Rob Vickers, 2 Scott Lawson, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Carlo del Fava, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 6 Dom Barrow, 7 Mark Wilson, 8 Ally Hogg (c)
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Scott MacLeod, 20 Will Welch, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Phil Godman, 23 James Fitzpatrick