ANDY HAZELL, Gloucester's breakaway forward, will be out of action for three weeks after scans diagnosed a tear to ligaments in his knee.
The England international limped out of Gloucester's EDF Energy Cup victory over the Dragons on Friday and will now not feature until after Christmas.
It means he will certainly miss Gloucester's back-to-back Heineken Cup matches against Bourgoin and potentially the Guinness Premiership derby against Bristol.
"We have developed a squad so we can cope with injuries to key individuals like Andy," said head coach Dean Ryan. "With the very nature of how Andy plays the game, he will pick up injuries from time to time and we have to manage that.
"It is obviously a blow not to have a player of his energy in the squad for a couple of weeks but we have plenty of options available to us and now we need to concentrate on getting his injury right."
Hazell, who was named the South West rugby player of the year on Sunday night, has made six appearances in all competitions this season.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
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.
Having named an unchanged starting XV for the past three Aviva Premiership games, Gloucester Rugby ring the changes and retain only five players for Thursday's visit of Stade Rochelais in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 7:45pm).