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.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
Looking to try a new sport? Look no further than Walking Rugby as thanks to Gloucester Rugby you can come along and try out the fast-growing sport at taster sessions across the county, starting this Wednesday.
Gloucester return to European Rugby Challenge Cup action on Thursday evening with the visit of Stade Rochelais to Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm). Early Bird ticket prices are available until 6:30pm on matchday.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.