JAMES FORRESTER will miss Gloucester's Guinness Premiership game against Leeds because of a rib injury.
The Gloucester and England number eight has been ruled out for at least a couple of weeks after suffering a recurrence of the complaint during his side's 32-25 defeat at Wasps on Boxing Day.
Forrester initially damaged his ribs against Toulon in the European Challenge Cup the previous week and his head coach Dean Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "James will be sidelined for a number of weeks.
"It is obviously a significant blow to us because he is a key member of our squad. But his absence will provide an opportunity for somebody else to come in and perform for us at this important stage of the season."
Forrester has been an ever-present member of the Gloucester squad this season and has made eight Premiership appearances and has scored three tries.
It is likely that Peter Buxton, who was rested for the clash against Wasps, will return to the squad for Saturday's visit against Leeds.
Forrester said: "I hurt my rib cartilage last week against Toulon and I thought it had improved quite dramatically. I passed a fitness test for the Wasps game but it was pretty sore until I injured it again in the 60th minute.
"I can tell you it was a very painful experience and it made breathing quite difficult. It is obviously very frustrating and at the moment there is very little I can do about it.
"I will continue to rest it and ice it this week and let the healing process take its course. I will then see how it reacts but missing any rugby is hard to take."
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
After a series of contract announcements last week, hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest Gloucester Rugby player to commit to a new contract at the club and told GRTV how much he enjoys playing in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
A try scorer in the 36-18 Aviva Premiership win over Wasps at Kingsholm on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted that Gloucester would enjoy the moment but can't get too carried away. The team got what they deserved but the winger wants these performances to be more frequent.
England Head Coach Eddie Jones has made two changes to his side to play Australia in Saturday's final match of the Old Mutual Wealth Series at Twickenham Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2). Jonny May lines up on the left wing.