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."
Gloucester will field a reshuffled side against the Ospreys in the LV= Cup this weekend, but Backs & Attack Coach Nick Walshe stressed that it's a great opportunity for everyone on duty on Saturday and that maintaining the recent winning run is very important.
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.