ALEX BROWN, Gloucester's England second row, will make his first appearance since September 9 tomorrow when he returns to the side against London Irish.
The 27-year-old red rose lock fractured the radius in his right forearm during Gloucester's second Guinness Premiership victory of the season against Harlequins but has recovered in only nine weeks.
Brown's return is timely because Gloucester will be without skipper Marco Bortolami, who is away on international duty with Italy and he is joined by prop Carlos Nieto.
"Really, it's an amazing turn-around," Brown said of his recovery. "It is always very frustrating when you are injured but after about two weeks I was able to do almost everything the other players were doing and that was encouraging.
"It's great to be back and for in a very important game. We have struggled against London Irish in the past. They have a fantastic line-out and are very competitive - it should be a great contest.
"But we have been playing well and will look forward to the challenge."
There are significant changes to the Gloucester pack following their 21-12 victory over Saracens last Saturday. The front row changes totally and there are recalls for Patrice Collazo at loosehead, Olivier Azam at hooker and Christian Califano on the tighthead side of the scrum.
Brown will be partnered by Adam Eustace in the second row, while Peter Buxton will skipper the side at number six, Jake Boer returns in the openside position and Luke Narraway reverts to number eight.
The backline remains the same which means Rory Lawson and Ryan Lamb will form the half-back combination, Rudi Keil, who scored twice against Sarries, is partnered by Jack Adams in the centre and James Simpson-Daniel, James Bailey and Willie Walker complete the back three.
On the bench there are returns for Mike Tindall (calf) and Olly Morgan (shoulder). The line-up is completed by hooker Mefin Davies, prop Jack Forster, Jonathan Pendlebury, Adam Balding and Haydn Thomas.
"Last week I thought we controlled the game in exactly the manner we want to for 30 minutes but then allowed Saracens to come back into it and that is where the frustration comes from," head coach Dean Ryan said.
"We are learning to understand how to manipulate the control of matches - but I could do without that nervous last 20 or 30 minutes. On Saturday we had a real opportunity to throw a significant performance together against a side not disrupted by international call-ups.
"What we have to do now is take that forward, learn from the positives we can take from the result and aim to improve this week."
GLOUCESTER (v London Irish, tomorrow, 8pm): Willie Walker; James Bailey, Jack Adams, Rudi Keil, James Simpson-Daniel; Ryan Lamb, Rory Lawson; Patrice Collazo, Olivier Azam, Christian Califano, Adam Eustace, Alex Brown, Peter Buxton (capt), Jake Boer, Luke Narraway. Reps: Mefin Davies, Jack Forster, Jonathan Pendlebury, Adam Balding, Haydn Thomas, Mike Tindall, Olly Morgan
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.