GLOUCESTER have taken a 24-man squad to France for tomorrow night's pre-season game against Bayonne and have included England stars Mike Tindall and Lesley Vainikolo.
Dean Ryan's side will play their second significant pre-season game at the Stade Jean Dauger and will also hope to get further game-time for number eight James Forrester, who returned to action after more than a year on the sidelines against Canada A 10-days ago.
The squad has a 13-11 forward split and also includes prop Carlos Nieto, lock Marco Bortolami, Will James, Alasdair Strokosch and Peter Buxton.
There are also further opportunities for prop Dave Young, hooker Ross McMillan and back row forwards Guy Thompson and Dan Williams.
"This is another opportunity for us to progress our preparations against a very good French side and at the same time re-introduce some players to our squad," said head coach Dean Ryan.
"We have competition for places across the squad and that intensity is going to be vital for us. After tomorrow's game we only have one more opportunity in pre-season before the Guinness Premiership starts so it is very important we see a step-up in what we are trying to achieve.
"We appreciate tomorrow's game will be another step up physically and that is a good thing. It is up to us to generate good habits now and build on them."
Alongside Tindall and Vainikolo, there will also be an opportunity for Ryan Lamb, Olly Morgan, Anthony Allen and Matthew Watkins all have the chance for more game-time and will be joined by scrum-halves Rory Lawson and Gareth Cooper.
Charlie Sharples and Mark Foster will also compete for a wing position.
GLOUCESTER squad (forwards): Alasdair Dickinson, Olivier Azam, Carlos Nieto, Dave Young, Jack Forster, Ross McMillan, Will James, Marco Bortolami, Dan Williams, Guy Thompson, Peter Buxton, Alasdair Strokosch, James Forrester. Backs: Gareth Cooper, Rory Lawson, Willie Walker, Ryan Lamb, Matthew Watkins, Anthony Allen, Mike Tindall, Charlie Sharples, Mark Foster, Lesley Vainikolo, Olly Morgan.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Matt Kvesic was a try scorer and recipient of the Man of the Match award in Sunday's 35-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Zebre. He praised the Italian side for their spirited opposition and admitted that next week's return game will be a tough one.