GLOUCESTER will go in search of a second successive EDF Energy Cup victory tomorrow and have named a strong side to face the Newport Gwent Dragons at Kingsholm (3pm).
Following an opening round victory over Wasps (24-19) earlier this month, Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan has been forced into a number of alterations because of injury but keeps faith with the backbone of the side that lost to Cardiff in the Heineken Cup last week.
At half-back, Rory Lawson will partner Willie Walker after injuries ruled our Ryan Lamb (pelvis) and Gareth Cooper (neck).
James Simpson-Daniel will undergo surgery on damaged ligaments in his right ankle next week which means Mark Foster comes into wear the 14 shirt. He will complete a back three alongside full-back Iain Balshaw, who has scored five tries in his last three appearances, and Lesley Vainikolo.
Mike Tindall will skipper the side from centre alongside Olly Barkley, who will wear the number 12 shirt.
Ryan has also made changes to his forward pack. Alasdair Dickinson, impressive against the Blues, will line-up alongside fellow Scotland international, hooker Scott Lawson, who will make his second start in Gloucester colours, and tight-head prop Carlos Nieto.
Adam Eustace will start for the first time this season in the second row alongside Marco Bortolami after a foot injury ruled out Alex Brown.
In the back row, Peter Buxton continues at blindside, Andy Hazell returns in the number seven shirt and Alasdair Strokosch shifts to number eight because of the hamstring injury to Luke Narraway.
Gloucester are still without Olly Morgan (hamstring), Anthony Allen (ankle) and Matthew Watkins (knee).
"I have said before we are taking this competition very seriously - we are facing a fellow Heineken Cup side and many aspects of the contest with resemble Europe - this is not something we are taking lightly," said head coach Dean Ryan.
"We want to be successful week on week, regardless of the opposition or competition. That is how you build a competitive, durable side and tomorrow is a huge contest for us - there is no doubt about that.
"We need to show a reaction from the defeat against Cardiff and tomorrow represents a great opportunity to do that."
On the bench, Gloucester will welcome back hooker Andy Titterrell, who has not featured since being knocked out against Sale Sharks in the last week of September. He will be joined on the bench by prop Jack Forster, lock Dan Williams and Apo Satala.
In the backs, Ryan has drafted in two players from the Academy. Scrum-half Dave Lewis will be joined by Tristan Roberts, a stand-off, who has also played for Cinderford this season.
Centre Jack Adams completes the options.
GLOUCESTER (v Newport Gwent Dragons, tomorrow, 3pm): Iain Balshaw; Mark Foster, Mike Tindall (capt), Olly Barkley, Lesley Vainikolo; Willie Walker, Rory Lawson; Alasdair Dickinson, Scott Lawson, Carlos Nieto, Adam Eustace, Marco Bortolami, Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, Alasdair Strokosch. Reps: Andy Titterrell, Jack Forster, Dan Williams, Apo Satala, Dave Lewis, Tristan Roberts, Jack Adams.
There are still tickets available for the game tomorrow and they are available from www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk, the ticket hotline number on 0871 871 8781 (option 2) or from the ticket office.
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.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).