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.
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.