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."
Speaking to the media following the 31-33 West Country Challenge Cup defeat to Exeter Chiefs at the Memorial Stadium, Director of Rugby David Humphreys was full of praise for his side's battling qualities in a bruising encounter but concerned about the injuries picked up.
The West Country Challenge Cup fixture against the Exeter Chiefs at the Memorial Stadium in Bristol on Saturday (kick off 3pm) will be Gloucester's last chance to work on things like new combinations says Director of Rugby, David Humphreys.
Speaking after the 30-21 West Country Challenge Cup defeat at Bath, Director of Rugby David Humphreys spoke of the improvements his team are making as preseason progresses but acknowledges that there is still work to do ahead of the start of the Aviva Premiership.
Speaking to the local media ahead of Saturday's trip to Bath Rugby in the West Country Challenge Cup, front rower Nick Wood spoke of the hard work put in across the extended preseason and highlighted the competition for front row spots in the squad.
Gloucester have named a 30 man squad for the latest round of West Country Challenge Cup action against Bath on Saturday, with Director of Rugby David Humphreys stressing the need to keep an eye on player workload ahead of what will be a long, tough season.
Describing the 50-7 West Country Challenge Cup win over Bath on Sunday as a '...good hit out...', wing Charlie Sharples admitted that it had been a good opportunity to put into practice things that the squad have been trying out in training in recent weeks.
Speaking to the local media after the 50-7 victory over Bath Rugby on Sunday, David Humphreys was happy with his squad's effort, with the most important aspect being the game time earned by his players.
Gloucester make wholesale changes to the side that started at Exeter last Saturday as they prepare to take on Bath at the Memorial Stadium, Bristol on Sunday in the West Country Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm). The Director of Rugby told GRTV that the players are raring to go and that he's looking forward to seeing different combinations in action.