IAIN BALSHAW will return to the Gloucester number 15 shirt for tomorrow's west country derby against Bath at the Rec.
The England star has missed the last two victories against Newcastle and Harlequins because of a groin injury but starts in place of Willie Walker as Dean Ryan's side look to build on the most impressive recent run in the Guinness Premiership.
Balshaw will make his 15th appearance of the season against his former club tomorrow as Gloucester look to extend their five-match winning run dating back to the end of February. However, they will make the trip to the Rec without lock Alex Brown who has still not recovered from nerve damage in his shoulder picked up against Quins.
"We worked exceptionally hard during the international period when we were without our senior internationals and have got ourselves into a position where we can really press for a top two place," head coach Dean Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"We have three games left but are just solely concerned with dealing with the here and now this weekend. Local derbies are always tense, tough affairs and I am sure tomorrow will be no different.
"Bath have an exceptionally good home record but we are thoroughly prepared for the challenge - it should be a fantastic occasion and one we will relish."
Of Balshaw's return, Ryan added: "Iain is a massive threat as a broken field runner and we need to get him into positions where he can be a danger.
"He is an international-quality player, we are in the run-in and to have that experience at this stage is crucial. We have selected a team purely for this match and I think it is very exciting."
Because of Brown's absence, Will James continues in the second row alongside skipper Marco Bortolami. In the front row, Nick Wood partners hooker Olivier Azam and tight-head Carlos Nieto.
The regular back row trio of Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell and James Forrester start together again.
On the bench, hooker Rob Elloway comes in for Mefin Davies because of family illness.
In the backs, Rory Lawson returns at scrum-half in place of Peter Richards and will partner Ryan Lamb at half-back. In the centre, Mike Tindall will return to his former club and will line-up alongside Anthony Allen, while James Simpson-Daniel, James Bailey and Balshaw complete the back-three.
On the bench, Adam Eustace, Jake Boer and Jack Forster complete the forward options alongside Elloway, while Richards, Walker and Mark Foster are the three-quarter options.
GLOUCESTER (v Bath, tomorrow, 2.15pm): Iain Balshaw; James Bailey, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, James Simpson-Daniel; Ryan Lamb, Rory Lawson, Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Carlos Nieto, Will James, Marco Bortolami (capt), Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, James Forrester. Reps: Rob Elloway, Jack Forster, Adam Eustace, Jake Boer, Peter Richards, Willie Walker, Mark Foster.
SUPPORTERS are reminded that on Monday at 3pm Gloucester host Harlequins in the Guinness A League at Hartpury College, 3pm.
Head coach Mark Cornwell is expected to be able to call on Ludovic Mercier, Luke Narraway, Adam Eustace, Jonathan Pendlebury, Jack Forster, Jon Goodridge and Mark Foster as Gloucester aim for a third successive victory.
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.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Tongan international forward Sione Kalamafoni returns after injury to take up his usual place in the back row as Gloucester look to finish their season on a high against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.
At the recent London Irish game, personnel from the Imjin Barracks in Innsworth, including Gurkhas, were present, holding a collection to raise funds for ShelterBox to aid relief from the recent Nepal Earthquake Appeal.