GLOUCESTER Rugby can confirm, following consultation with an independent knee specialist yesterday, that James Forrester will have surgery on torn left knee cartilage tonight.
Forrester has been examined by both Gloucester Rugby's and England's medical teams and is expected to be out of action for up to six weeks after picking up the injury during Gloucester's 37-20 Heineken Cup defeat to Leinster.
"James has been one of our stand-out performers so far this season and is capable of becoming an international-quality forward," said his club coach Dean Ryan. "This injury is obviously devastating news for him, Gloucester and England.
"But everyone will offer him all the support he needs to make a full recovery - he is a very determined individual and we obviously hope to see him back in action as soon as possible."
England Head Coach Andy Robinson OBE said: "We wish James a speedy and complete recovery. It is a blow for Gloucester and England because he was very much in contention for this series but the important thing for him now is that he gets the best treatment and rehabilitation."
Forrester, the Guinness Premiership player of the month for September, has made six appearances in all competitions and has scored four tries.
Fly-half Billy Burns was named Man of the Match after the 35-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Stade Rochelais on Thursday evening, and was full of praise for all his team mates for the win after a short turnaround.
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.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.