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.
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.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Having named an unchanged starting XV for the past three Aviva Premiership games, Gloucester Rugby ring the changes and retain only five players for Thursday's visit of Stade Rochelais in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 7:45pm).