DIRECTOR of rugby Alan Solomons hit back at online criticism over his team selection after Worcester Warriors suffered a semi-final defeat to Saracens in the Premiership Cup.

Solomons insisted the turnaround between matches was “not long enough” for his star players to recuperate in time to play after they guided Warriors to victory over Wasps five days earlier.

He also revealed wing Bryce Heem, scrum-half Francois Hougaard and centre Francois Venter who played against Wasps were “carrying knocks” and were rested ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership trip to Harlequins (3pm).

Solomons’ response comes after many fans expressed their disappointment on social media over the team announcement.

Warriors were just two wins away from claiming their first major domestic cup competition but went down 38-22 to Sarries at Sixways on Friday night.

“First of all there was only a five-day turnaround,” Solomons said.

“Players were also carrying knocks like Bryce, Francois Hougaard and Francois Venter so they would not have been available for selection.

“People need to understand that when you have a turnaround like that and you are playing rugby at the level we are playing at it is a very difficult ask (to play in both games) and then to expect them to back it up the following week.

“Some of them were simply not available and others would have been a risk.

“Callum (Black) had a dislocated finger and we were lucky that he could come on and play but we obviously wanted to limit his time on that field.

“I thought the selection was dictated by the turnaround and to some extent by what (games were) coming up.

“A five-day turnaround in rugby is not long enough.”

Warriors were dealt a blow on the morning of the match when lock Pierce Phillips pulled out with a foot injury, forcing Anton Bresler to come into the starting line-up and Marco Mama to be drafted onto the bench.

But Solomons is confident Phillips, Heem, Hougaard and Venter would all be fit to tackle Quins at The Stoop.

“They are just knocks, so there’s nothing that serious that is going to keep them out next weekend,” Solomons said.

“Pierce wasn’t available as the insertion of muscle into the foot was giving him aggravation.

“But he should be fine by next weekend as well.

“We waited but he didn’t feel comfortable so to push him into a game would have been crazy.”

Warriors still have the chance to progress in the European Challenge Cup as they host Harlequins in the quarter-finals on Saturday, March 30.

And Solomons hinted at fielding a stronger line-up for that much-anticipated encounter at Sixways.

“The Harlequins game is part of a block of matches,” Solomons said.

“I think we have got a Prem game, then the quarter-final against Harlequins and two more Prem games so one has got to view it as a solid block of four games together.

“I am sure Harlequins will put out a strong side.

“We played Wasps last week and they put out the best available team that they had to them.”

Warriors will hoping for a bumper crowd for the Quins clash after just over 5,000 fans turned out for their last-four battle with Sarries.

“All those who came out were fantastic and were very supportive,” Solomons added.