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).
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees told GRTV after the win in Brive that the game could have been a tough one to get up for, but that his Gloucester team mates did themselves proud on the night and got a big result.
Reflecting on the 31-20 victory in Brive on Thursday evening, Director of Rugby David Humphreys said that clinching a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final was the overall aim and duly achieved.
Gloucester may have already clinched a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys wants his side to finish the pool stages on a winning note in Brive on Thursday evening.
Speaking after Saturday's win, James Hudson was happy to record a bonus-point win against a hugely physical Oyonnax side as Gloucester secured their passage into the European Rugby Challenge Cup Quarter Finals
Billy Burns was a try scorer on his first European start for Gloucester and, speaking after the game, admitted that it was good to get the five points although there are still things to work on before the trip to Brive.
Gloucester Rugby have added to their front row strength in depth for next season with the signings of Paul Doran-Jones, Paddy McAllister and Nicky Thomas from Harlequins, Aurillac and the Ospreys respectively.
Connacht's 30-20 win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening means that they are the third best placed runners up and will come to Kingsholm for the quarter-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup in early April.