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.
Named Man of the Match by BT Sport, scrum-half Willi Heinz said after the 15-11 win at Bath on Friday evening that it was a pretty happy Gloucester dressing room and reward for a lot of hard work put in during the week leading up to the game.
Speaking after the 15-11 win over Bath at the Rec on Friday evening, David Humphreys heaped praise on his players, pointing out how they had bounced back after last week's tough defeat to overcome a rough start before controlling the game and earning the win.
Gloucester Rugby hooker Richard Hibbard spoke to the local media this week as the Cherry and Whites prepare to face Bath Rugby in the Aviva Premiership. The Welshman is ready to bounce back at The Rec.
Speaking to the local media about the local derby against Bath at the Rec on Friday evening, Director of Rugby David Humphreys acknowledged that it will be a tough encounter but hugely exciting at the same time and one the squad are looking forward to.
A visibly disappointed Billy Twelvetrees admitted that it was a very sombre Gloucester dressing room as a last minute try and conversion condemned the Cherry and Whites to an 18-19 defeat against Leicester Tigers on Saturday.
A disappointed Tom Savage told GRTV, after the 18-19 defeat at home to the Leicester Tigers, that the whole Gloucester team had put in a fantastic effort, but just couldn't find the extra one or two percent necessary to put away a top side.
Speaking after the narrow loss to Leicester Tigers on Saturday afternoon, David Humphreys says despite there being a lot of good in Gloucester's performance, he rued the failure to close the game out, as well as thanking the home support
Kiwi second row Jeremy Thrush is thoroughly enjoying his time in Cherry and White so far, and this weekend the Leicester Tigers are the visitors to Kingsholm, and the All Black is massively excited about the challenge.
After two wins in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, securing a home quarter-final, David Humphreys told the local media this week that Gloucester are coming into Saturday's game in good physical shape having rotated the squad. However, he and the squad are prepared for a tough encounter against the Tigers.
It's almost four years since Gloucester won a Premiership game at the Rec against Bath. However, they got that monkey off their back on Friday evening with a hard-fought 15-11 win in testing conditions.