EXETER Chiefs' players have one last chance to fight it out for a starting berth against Northampton this weekend as they face Glasgow at Sandy Park.
Head coach Rob Baxter says the players who helped the club end last term with six wins from their last sevens matches are in pole position to start the coming campaign.
However, with seven players having joined the club since they brought the curtain down on the 2012/13 season, Baxter insists any player could force themselves into the reckoning with a good display against the Warriors.
The visit of the Scottish outfit, who the Chiefs face in the Heineken this term, is the last warm-up match before the Aviva Premiership action starts.
Baxter said: "I don't make any secret of the fact that I am a big believer in consistency of selection and guys who've been performing well and are deserving to start tend to get the nod.
"That said, there were big stand-out performances at the end of last season and people have to remember we were probably one of the form teams, if not the form team, in the last seven or eight games of the Premiership.
"We had a team that was performing successfully then, that won't be forgotten, but at the same time we have got a number of guys who have performed to such a degree so far in pre-season that they're very likely to start getting into that team.
"This weekend is another opportunity for established players to show how good they are and another opportunity for our newer guys to show they deserve to force their way, on form, into the starting line-up."
Baxter used 33 players in the opening pre-season match against the Scarlets and 30 against Bristol, but intends to stick to a smaller squad this weekend.
He has named 15 players on the bench – more than the eight allowed for a league game – but is unlikely to use everyone as he gets closer to the sort of squad he would have in the Premiership.
Among those not to feature is Luke Cowan-Dickie, who was forced off early last weekend with a knee injury and his set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
With fellow hookers Greg Bateman and Tom Cowan-Dickie also injured, Baxter is considering dipping into the loan market to cover Jack Yeandle and Chris Whitehead.
Bateman, Don Armand and Sireli Naqelevuki should all return to full training in the next few weeks.
But latest signing Romana Graham, who arrived from New Zealand at the end of last week, could feature against Glasgow as Baxter is keen to see what shape he is in, having not played for a while.
"I'm not desperate to get a lot of game time into Romana but it will be good for him to train full this week," said Baxter.
"We'll know more about exactly where he is and how much time we should give him when we see him at the end of the training week, so we'll make that decision at the weekend."
Glasgow are the second side Exeter face in their Heineken Cup pool this term, with a trip north of the border on October 20.
However, Baxter does not think this weekend's match will have any bearing on the European battles to come.
"I don't think either of us will be thinking about the Heineken Cup, at this stage it will just be about having a competitive fixture," he said.
"The Heineken Cup games are a little way off, there's a lot of rugby that's going to get played before then and a lot will probably change for both sides.
"From my perspective I'm just pleased to have a competitive game against a strong side and that's the way we'll prepare best for the game against Northampton.
"We'll genuinely know where we stand in a lot of ways this weekend so it will be good all round."
Exeter Chiefs: Arscott; Vainikolo, Dollman, Shoemark, Whitten; Steenson, Thomas; Sturgess, Yeandle, Rimmer, Mumm, Welch, White, Johnson, Ewers. Reps: Whitehead, Moon, Brown, Hayes, Graham, Scaysbrook, Horstmann, Phillips, Chudley, Lewis, Slade, Sweeney, James, Hill, Jess