GLOUCESTER number eight Adam Balding will undergo an operation on his Achilles next Thursday that will rule him out for the rest of the season.
The 27-year-old England A international has a tear in his Achilles and is expected to be out of action for around three months.
"Naturally I am devastated," Balding told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "I had fought really hard to push my claims for selection this season and felt I was really starting to run into form.
"We have some outstanding players at the club in the back row positions so you really have to earn the right to be in the side and felt I was doing that - this has just come at totally the wrong time for me and the club.
"But once I have had the operation I will start my recovery work and my aim is to come back fitter and stronger than before. We are very close to achieving something special at the club and I will be right behind the team for the remainder of the season."
Balding signed from Leicester three years ago and has made 57 appearances in all competitions with four tries.
This season he made 11 appearances in all competitions and his last start was against Sale last month.
"Adam has battled his way back into contention in the side but had played three great games in a row and would have been involved last weekend," said head coach Dean Ryan.
"He has really come into form and the premature end to his season is very disappointing for all involved because he was playing really well.
"We wish him well in his recovery following his operation."
There will be two stages to Balding's operation. He will have damage cleared away from his ankle and his Achilles tidied up at the same time.
Speaking to the local media this week, David Humphreys insisted that Gloucester are looking forward to kicking off the new European Rugby Challenge Cup against Brive on Thursday evening, although an unfamiliar opponent and a five day turnaround will pose a challenge.
Director of Rugby David Humphreys felt that his Gloucester side put themselves in a position to put Saracens under real pressure at Allianz Park on Saturday, praising his team's commitment and defence, while admitting that a lack of accuracy hit their chances in the second half.
Speaking to the local media at Allianz Park, Tom Savage was disappointed after the defeat at Saracens, but claimed Gloucester did plenty of good things and could've taken more than a losing bonus point.
In case you missed it, there was plenty of activity on the official Gloucester Rugby website following the 55-0 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over CA Brive, including a number of post match video interviews.