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.
Speaking to the local media this week, centre Henry Trinder was pleased with his recent form in the jersey, but knows that the squad cannot rest on any laurels with a huge test awaiting at The Rec this Sunday (KO 3pm)
Speaking to GRTV this week, Director of Rugby David Humphreys reflected on last week's win in La Rochelle as well as an A League semi-final triumph, but insisted that focus has quickly switched to Sunday's crucial Aviva Premiership fixture at Bath.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Local junior rugby teams had the honour of trotting out onto the Kingsholm pitch on Saturday morning, with over 400 young players representing their local clubs in the finals of the Wooden Spoon Charity Floodlit Tournament.