GLOUCESTER'S head coach Dean Ryan will welcome back a core of senior players tomorrow when his side clash with the Ospreys in a Heineken Cup shoot-out at the Liberty Stadium.
Ryan is able to include five returning internationals - hooker Andy Titterrell, number eight Gareth Delve, full-back Iain Balshaw, scrum-half Gareth Cooper and winger James Simpson-Daniel.
Titterrell returns after the shoulder problem he picked up against Newcastle before Christmas and comes in for Olivier Azam, who moves to the bench.
Delve returns to the number eight position following a knee injury, Balshaw has recovered from a gashed knee to replace Willie Walker at full-back and Cooper comes at scrum-half for Rory Lawson. Simpson-Daniel has recovered from flu.
"We are fortunate to have some key players returning to the squad," Ryan said. "Tomorrow represents what the Heineken Cup means across Europe - there are some huge contests and ours falls right into the top bracket.
"This is the top end of club competition and we will relish that fact. We have made a very encouraging start in the Heineken Cup but we know tomorrow will examine us and what we can offer this tournament.
"These are the sort of games you want to be involved in as a player and a coach and that is what makes it such an exciting prospect."
Gloucester have taken 19 points out of a possible 20 in the Heineken Cup so far this season and a victory tomorrow will guarantee them a place in the knockout stages.
Lesley Vainikolo was not considered for selection following the death of his father in New Zealand.
Either side of Titterrell will be props Nick Wood and Carlos Nieto; Marco Bortolami will skipper the side from the second row alongside Alex Brown.
Peter Buxton, Akapusi Qera and Delve complete the back row.
Cooper returns following a hamstring strain to partner Ryan Lamb at half-back, while Mike Tindall and Anthony Allen are the centre partnership.
Balshaw, Simpson-Daniel and Leon Lloyd complete Ryan's back three.
"We have a strong squad and we are comfortable with the selections we have made for this specific game," Ryan added. "It gives us dynamism with the option of power from the bench. Bar one or two exceptions, we have everybody available this weekend."
On the bench, Azam is joined by prop Christian Califano. Luke Narraway and Alasdair Strokosch complete the forward options, while Rory Lawson, Chris Paterson and Walker are the three-quarter options.
GLOUCESTER (V Ospreys, tomorrow, 5.30pm): Iain Balshaw; James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, Leon Lloyd; Ryan Lamb, Gareth Cooper; Nick Wood, Andy Titterrell, Carlos Nieto, Marco Bortolami (capt), Alex Brown, Peter Buxton, Akapusi Qera, Gareth Delve. Reps: Olivier Azam, Christian Califano, Luke Narraway, Alasdair Strokosch, Rory Lawson, Chris Paterson, Willie Walker.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Speaking to the local media after the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys gave an honest assessment of the game, and expressed his pride in the way his young charges had performed against the title-chasing hosts.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby scrum half Callum Braley is excited by the challenge of the West Country Derby, and the ex-Bristol man reveals the squad will be giving their all.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.
At the recent London Irish game, personnel from the Imjin Barracks in Innsworth, including Gurkhas, were present, holding a collection to raise funds for ShelterBox to aid relief from the recent Nepal Earthquake Appeal.