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.
Named Man of the Match by BT Sport, scrum-half Willi Heinz said after the 15-11 win at Bath on Friday evening that it was a pretty happy Gloucester dressing room and reward for a lot of hard work put in during the week leading up to the game.
Speaking after the 15-11 win over Bath at the Rec on Friday evening, David Humphreys heaped praise on his players, pointing out how they had bounced back after last week's tough defeat to overcome a rough start before controlling the game and earning the win.
Gloucester Rugby hooker Richard Hibbard spoke to the local media this week as the Cherry and Whites prepare to face Bath Rugby in the Aviva Premiership. The Welshman is ready to bounce back at The Rec.
Speaking to the local media about the local derby against Bath at the Rec on Friday evening, Director of Rugby David Humphreys acknowledged that it will be a tough encounter but hugely exciting at the same time and one the squad are looking forward to.
A visibly disappointed Billy Twelvetrees admitted that it was a very sombre Gloucester dressing room as a last minute try and conversion condemned the Cherry and Whites to an 18-19 defeat against Leicester Tigers on Saturday.
A disappointed Tom Savage told GRTV, after the 18-19 defeat at home to the Leicester Tigers, that the whole Gloucester team had put in a fantastic effort, but just couldn't find the extra one or two percent necessary to put away a top side.
Speaking after the narrow loss to Leicester Tigers on Saturday afternoon, David Humphreys says despite there being a lot of good in Gloucester's performance, he rued the failure to close the game out, as well as thanking the home support
Kiwi second row Jeremy Thrush is thoroughly enjoying his time in Cherry and White so far, and this weekend the Leicester Tigers are the visitors to Kingsholm, and the All Black is massively excited about the challenge.
After two wins in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, securing a home quarter-final, David Humphreys told the local media this week that Gloucester are coming into Saturday's game in good physical shape having rotated the squad. However, he and the squad are prepared for a tough encounter against the Tigers.
It's almost four years since Gloucester won a Premiership game at the Rec against Bath. However, they got that monkey off their back on Friday evening with a hard-fought 15-11 win in testing conditions.
John Afoa returns to the Gloucester Rugby starting line up to take on Bath Rugby at the Rec in the Aviva Premiership on Friday evening, one of three changes to the side that started against Leicester last weekend.
Great news this afternoon as Cherry and White duo Mat Protheroe and Ollie Thorley have been named to start for England as they open up their Under 20 Six Nations campaign against Scotland in Glasgow this Friday
A number of Gloucester Rugby's Academy players will be part of a Hartpury Rugby squad which will travel to Pennyhill Park on Thursday to train with Eddie Jones' England side in their build up to take on Scotland.