Phil Vickery will have a back operation on Saturday
PHIL VICKERY will undergo surgery on Saturday to relieve pressure on a nerve root caused by a disc protrusion.
The Gloucester and England tighthead prop will have his third back operation in Bristol under the guidance of consultant neurosurgeon Dr Richard Nelson and faces three months rehabilitation from the surgery.
Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "In view of the fact that he has had previous surgery in this area his recovery and rehabilitation will be carefully monitored by his specialist and the Gloucester and England medical teams.
"He faces three months rehabilitation from the operation and there is obviously a great likelihood it will disrupt the rest of his season. But we remain very positive that his outlook is bright.
"Naturally, we are very disappointed to lose Phil because he had been playing back at his best and is a world class performer. Everyone at Gloucester wishes him well for the surgery and for his recovery period."
Vickery damaged his back during Gloucester's Guinness Premiership victory over Saracens earlier this month and will now miss the entire Six Nations with England.
England Head coach Andy Robinson said: "Our best wishes will be with Phil on Saturday. It shows what a fighter he is that he has twice come back from surgery and we are hoping that this operation is also successful. He is an outstanding member of the England squad and will be sorely missed by us and Gloucester."
Vickery has won 47 England caps and has undergone back operations before in February 2003 and May 2004 as well as a shoulder operation in the summer of 2000.
This season, he made his return to Gloucester in a pre-season game against Calvisano following a broken arm and has made 13 appearances in all competitions. Last season he also suffered a blow-out fracture of his eye socket in a Premiership game against Wasps.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Newcastle Falcons (kick off 3pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys emphasised the importance this weekend of Gloucester building on last week's impressive home victory against the Exeter Chiefs.
Speaking to the assembled national and local media, try-scorer Jonny May was delighted and relieved to have tasted victory on Saturday evening, and is looking forward to the European Rugby Challenge Cup final.
Tom Savage delivered a Man of the Match performance against Exeter Chiefs on his birthday on Saturday evening. He spoke to GRTV after the game about the importance of the European Rugby Challenge Cup win.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Gloucester Rugby return to Aviva Premiership action against the Newcastle Falcons on Saturday (Kingsholm, kick off 3pm), and make several changes to the side that defeated Exeter Chiefs at home last weekend.