GLOUCESTER'S head coach Dean Ryan has backed young centre Jack Adams to continue his development following his crucial try-scoring cameo against Bath on Saturday.
The former St Peter's schoolboy, who will be 20 later this month, was a second half replacement for the injured Iain Balshaw in the west country derby and responded with a dazzling individual score that set Gloucester on their way to a 24-19 victory.
It was a sweet return for Adams, who missed virtually all of last season with serious ligament damage to his knee on A team duty against Saracens.
But Ryan is convinced Adams, who replaced Balshaw on the wing, is capable of joining fellow youngsters Anthony Allen, Olly Morgan and Ryan Lamb in playing a key role for the club this season.
"We have always been aware that Jack has incredible talent but we have to be patient with him because he suffered a horrendous injury last season," Ryan said.
"We must give him great credit because he has worked exceptionally hard to get back to fitness and to see him return like he did at the weekend was fantastic.
"There is a long way to because he has been out of the game for a long time but before his injury we saw glimpses of his ability and there is certainly more to come.
"At this stage he will not be rushed but he has been a great credit to the club and Saturday's performance will have given his confidence a huge boost."
Meanwhile, Gloucester will monitor the fitness of Balshaw in the coming days after he sustained an ankle injury on Saturday. He will undergo a scan tomorrow but the injury is not thought to be serious.
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).