HAYDN THOMAS will be out of action for six week after fracturing his collarbone during Gloucester's European Challenge Cup victory over Bayonne last Saturday.
The Kingsholm scrum-half now faces at least six weeks on the sidelines after suffering the injury as a second half replacement during Gloucester's 32-19 win that secured a home quarter-final against Brive.
The 23-year-old is in his first season with Dean Ryan's side after agreeing a two-year contract from Exeter Chiefs last summer.
In 11 appearances in all competitions this season, Thomas has scored three tries and of the injury, head coach Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "It's obviously extremely disappointing for him because he had really been pushing for an opportunity.
"With the Six Nations upon us he had a real chance to press that claim but unfortunately for everyone concerned that will not happen now.
"As a club it is concerning because we are exposed at number nine with our commitments to support England."
Gloucester's other two first choice scrum-half options - Peter Richards and Simon Amor - are away with the England senior and sevens squads respectively this week.
However, it is expected that Richards will return for Saturday's Guinness Premiership clash against London Irish (3pm).
Fly-half Billy Burns was named Man of the Match after the 35-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Stade Rochelais on Thursday evening, and was full of praise for all his team mates for the win after a short turnaround.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
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.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.