GUINNESS Premiership leaders Gloucester have been forced into changes ahead of tomorrow's west country derby against Bristol at Kingsholm (3pm).
Despite winning 20-13 away to Newcastle two days before Christmas, head coach Dean Ryan has made key alterations for the sell-out Kingsholm clash.
Up front, Carlos Nieto is replaced by Christian Califano at tight-head, Luke Narraway switches to number eight in place of Gareth Delve (knee) and Akapusi Qera returns at openside after recovering from a wrist injury.
In the backs, Rory Lawson returns at scrum-half in place of Gareth Cooper, who damaged a hamstring at Kingston Park and Willie Walker comes in at full-back in place of Iain Balshaw, who has a gashed knee.
Andy Titterrell is also ruled out which means Jeremy Paul comes into the squad for the first time since the end of November and there is also a recall for scrum-half Mike Prendergast.
"It is unfortunate we have players unavailable tomorrow but I don't want that to detract from our preparation - it is up to us to go out and produce a performance - that is the only thing that matters," head coach Dean Ryan said.
"These derby games are very special for the supporters and I think Kingsholm will be a magnificent sight tomorrow with a capacity crowd but from our point of view we approach this like any other game, we will be focused and ready for what will be a very intense occasion.
"We know Bristol are a very good side but it is up to us to get our game right and play well."
Gloucester's forwards have a tried and trusted look to them with Nick Wood and Olivier Azam packing down alongside Califano.
Marco Bortolami will skipper the side from the second row alongside Alex Brown, while Alasdair Strokosch, Qera and Narraway complete the back row as Gloucester look for their 16th successive home Premiership victory - their last home defeat was against Wasps in May 2006.
In the backs, Ryan Lamb, who has signed a new two-year contract extension, will partner Lawson at half-back, while Anthony Allen and Mike Tindall will be the centres.
James Simpson-Daniel, who will make his 100th Premiership appearance tomorrow, will line-up alongside Lesley Vainikolo and Walker in the back three.
Walker's last start was in the number 10 shirt against the Dragons in the EDF Energy Cup in November but he came off the bench against Bourgoin a fortnight ago and scored a try in the second half.
"Tomorrow is about us producing a performance we can be proud of because this game is vital in its own right," Ryan added.
"If we can do that then we are capable of beating teams but it is up to us - we must get it right."
On the bench, hooker Paul, who has made two starts in the EDF Energy Cup, comes into the Premiership squad for the first time this season, as does prop Jack Forster. Will James and Peter Buxton complete the forward options. Prendergast and Chris Paterson (ribs) return to the squad and the final place is taken by centre Leon Lloyd.
GLOUCESTER (v Bristol, tomorrow 3pm): Willie Walker, James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, Lesley Vainikolo, Ryan Lamb, Rory Lawson; Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Christian Califano, Marco Bortolami (capt), Alex Brown, Alasdair Strokosch, Akapusi Qera, Luke Narraway. Reps: Jeremy Paul, Jack Forster, Will James, Peter Buxton, Mike Prendergast, Chris Paterson, Leon Lloyd.
Tom Savage delivered a Man of the Match performance against Exeter Chiefs on his birthday on Saturday evening. He spoke to GRTV after the game about the importance of the European Rugby Challenge Cup win.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester Rugby can confirm that their allocation of tickets for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final against Edinburgh Rugby, taking place at The Stoop on Friday May 1st (kick off 7:45pm) is now officially sold out.
The Gloucester Rugby Ticket office can advise that the club's initial allocation of tickets for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final has sold out. However, the club has secured an additional allocation of tickets from EPCR which will go on sale on Monday.
Following Saturday evening's exciting European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Exeter Chiefs, the Ticket Office at Kingsholm will be open on Sunday from 11am to 3pm for Club Members to purchase tickets for the Final.