MIKE TINDALL, Gloucester's World Cup winning centre, will return to Guinness Premiership action tomorrow, five months after breaking his leg against Newcastle Falcons (6pm).
Tindall fractured the lower third of his tibia in his right leg during Gloucester's 19-12 defeat at Kingston Park but is back in action against Worcester Warriors tomorrow night as Dean Ryan's side aim to consolidate their position at the top of the Premiership.
Although he missed out on selection for the World Cup, Tindall has continued his recovery process and is raring to get back into Gloucester's midfield.
"It has obviously been a long time coming but I feel fantastic and cannot wait to get back in the side," Tindall told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"My rehabilitation has gone really well, I am in contention at the time we always thought I would be and I am just desperate to get back into the team environment to try and play my part.
"Mentally it can be a hugely frustrating time when you are out of the game for so long which is why I am just so pleased to be fit and available for selection again. With the new stand development at Kingsholm it promises to be a very special night and to be involved is great for me.
"It's too early to set any targets - I just want to get some mileage in my legs, pull on a Gloucester shirt again and taste action again - I cannot wait."
Tindall's inclusion is all the more important because of a slight knee injury that rules out Leon Lloyd. Tindall will partner Anthony Allen in the centre as head coach Dean Ryan makes one other change in his three-quarters to the team that started against Saracens last weekend.
Because of the neck injury sustained by Lesley Vainikolo at Vicarage Road, Olly Morgan will start his first game of the season at full-back and Iain Balshaw switches to the wing.
Of Tindall's return, Ryan said: "At the outset of his injury we always had this stage of the season in mind for his potential return and if we didn't think he was ready, we wouldn't rush him back.
"His return is significant because of his experience, big-game value and midfield control - it is great news for us."
In the forwards, Ryan makes only one change. Hooker Olivier Azam starts in place of Andy Titterrell, who moves to the bench. That means props Nick Wood and Carlos Nieto retain their places and Peter Buxton is included in the second row alongside Alex Brown.
Alasdair Stokosch, Andy Hazell and Luke Narraway form the back row.
"Mike Ruddock has given Worcester a bit more licence to play - they are playing a little bit more rugby than they have in the past and are certainly a greater threat," Ryan said.
"Their set-piece has always been strong but to me they are a bit freer and more of a threat. A derby brings with it its own intensity and its own challenges. I don't think either side will say they have played their best stuff in the first two games but are both improving.
"In the first game against Leeds, I thought we were poor in defence but improved against Saracens against a better backline. Individual errors cost us but when we operated within a team structure and organisation, we showed some improvement.
"We need to continue that this weekend and look to get better - hopefully the stadium will be pretty full, it will be a special atmosphere and a great occasion."
On the bench, Christian Califano and Titterrell are the front row replacements, Adam Balding and Jonathan Pendlebury complete the forward options. Scrum-half Dave Lewis, utility back Willie Walker and winger James Bailey comes on for Morgan.
Tickets for tomorrow's game are still available and supporters can purchase them by calling the ticket hotline number on 0871 871 8781 (option 2).
GLOUCESTER (v Worcester, tomorrow 6pm): Olly Morgan; James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, Iain Balshaw; Ryan Lamb, Mike Prendergast, Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Carlos Nieto, Peter Buxton (capt), Alex Brown, Alasdair Strokosch, Andy Hazell, Luke Narraway. Reps: Andy Titterrell, Christian Califano, Jonathan Pendlebury, Adam Balding, Dave Lewis, Willie Walker, James Bailey.
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.
Speaking to the local media after the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys gave an honest assessment of the game, and expressed his pride in the way his young charges had performed against the title-chasing hosts.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby scrum half Callum Braley is excited by the challenge of the West Country Derby, and the ex-Bristol man reveals the squad will be giving their all.
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.
It was a thriller at Kingsholm on Sunday afternoon, as Gloucester snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, leveling the scores in the final minute before triumphing in extra time over a spirited Connacht side.
Having defeated Connacht Rugby in dramatic fashion in the first play-off for the final spot in the 2015-16 European Rugby Champions Cup, Gloucester Rugby can confirm ticketing details for next Sunday's game against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways.