GLOUCESTER'S Samoan centre Terry Fanolua has targeted a return to first team action in time for the start of the Guinness Premiership after undergoing surgery to correct cartilage damage to his knee.
The powerfully constructed midfield man picked up the problem to his right knee during the final stages of his summer involvement with the Samoan national squad.
He flew back from Auckland on Monday and immediately underwent a scan and arthroscopy at a London hospital that revealed the extent of the damage and means he will miss the remainder of Gloucester's pre-season campaign against Calvisano, Doncaster and Viadana.
Gloucester's record Premiership appearance holder and try-scorer Fanolua has scored 34 tries in 142 matches since his debut in 1997, and has played in every position in the backline apart from scrum-half, and should be back in training in a month and hopes to be in action again when Gloucester travel to Worcester on September 4.
Talking to www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk head coach Dean Ryan said: "There is nothing structurally wrong or anything like that but it is a problem that needed addressing.
"He will undergo three of four weeks rehabilitation and at this stage we hope he will be available for the first Premiership game of the season.
"He had a little bit of a tear but it needed sorting out. It's not serious and he should be training again soon which is important because he is a very important member of our squad."
Fanolua was an ever present in the Gloucester side last season until a restrictive back injury reduced his effectiveness at the end of the campaign.
But he came off the bench in the Zurich Premiership Wildcard final against Saracens and produced an outstanding performance in a losing cause.
"The summer has certainly not been a holiday for me but we achieved what we wanted and that was to qualify for the World Cup," he said. "The good thing about the operation is that I can get a bit of a break because I played a lot of games in a short space of time.
"I have already started my rehab and if all goes well with the injury I can start doing some upper-body strength work in the gym by the end of the week and hopefully next week get back on the bike.
"It's not a major injury but I just needed to have it done."
As Gloucester prepare for their 39th game of the season, against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday, David Humphreys told the local media that this week has been all about getting the players mentally and physically ready after a tough game against Connacht last Sunday.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-32 victory over Connacht on Sunday, skipper Billy Twelvetrees explained that Gloucester had had to learn to be patient and cut out the errors to earn the win and progress to next weekend's final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
On Saturday afternoon, Saracens were triumphant in the Aviva Premiership Final over Bath Rugby, but alongside the action at Twickenham, the Gloucester Rugby Community Department descended on HQ to celebrate a great season, behind the scenes, breaking a Guinness World Record in the process.
England Rugby have named their squad for their Junior World Championship opener against Japan in Calvisano on Tuesday, and Gloucester Rugby's Lloyd Evans could be in line for his debut after being named amongst the replacements.