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).
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).