GLOUCESTER'S head coach Dean Ryan has backed his brigade of youngsters cutting their teeth in the Premiership and believes the 'green shoots' of development shown this season will only benefit the club in the long-term.
The Kingsholm coach is confident the future of the club is bright - despite a difficult month that has been disrupted through injury and international call-ups.
But the likes of Luke Narraway, Jack Forster, Rob Elloway, Jonathan Pendlebury and Nick Wood have all produced performances that have shown a great deal of maturity and skill and Ryan believes they will only get better.
"We have still got injuries to people in key positions and that is something we are going to have to manage," Ryan said. "But in the last few weeks I think we have seen massive green shoots of dividend with regard to the future of the club and that will benefit us next year.
"I think it will take about 12 or 14 months to see these guys really come through in the Premiership but I have been very impressed with what these young guys have done for us now.
"We are starting to get the best out of that young group and it's very encouraging. They are pushing for regular places and that is what we want to try and achieve.
"You only have to look at somebody like Anthony Allen - he was close to being one of our first choice centres before England Under-21 commitments took over - and that is the sort of environment we want to achieve.
"Some of these guys have had little exposure to the Guinness Premiership but they will only get better over the long term.
"I was really impressed with the effort and commitment shown at Northampton and the only thing they were missing was the victory to go with it. The future of the club is bright and we want to continue to help it grow."
Gloucester face Bristol on Saturday and Ryan has yet to finalise his line-up. But he is expected to welcome back Mefin Davies and Mike Tindall from international duty and James Simpson-Daniel and Alex Brown from illness and injury respectively.
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
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.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
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).