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.
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).