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.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is targeting a 'unique' finish to his Gloucester tenure in the European Rugby Challenge Cup final at the venue where his professional playing career began, BT Murrayfield Stadium (Friday 12 May).
Gloucester's young United side once again dug deep to take an illustrious scalp, overturning a half-time deficit to earn a 40-29 victory over Wasps and earn a place in the Aviva Premiership A League final.