LESLEY VAINIKOLO has undergone surgery to repair his ruptured right Achilles tendon and will not play again this season.
The Gloucester and England winger underwent surgery from specialist James Calder at the Cromwell Hospital in London on Monday night and will be out of action for at least seven months.
The 29-year-old suffered the injury during the first-half of Gloucester's 22-16 Guinness Premiership victory over Saracens on Saturday, having just helped create a score for full-back Olly Morgan.
Vainikolo has made 17 appearances in all competitions this season and has scored eight tries. In 35 appearances since his debut against Leeds Carnegie last season, when he scored five tries, he has scored 19 times in 35 appearances and has made five appearances for England following his debut against Wales in the Six Nations last season.
"Les is a massive part of our squad, not just for his on-field contributions but because his personality is such an integral and vital part of the group," said Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan.
"It will naturally leave a very significant gap and with the current injuries we have in the squad at the moment this could not have come at a worse time.
"Les has undergone surgery and when it is appropriate he will begin his rehabilitation process but we appreciate it will be a long road and he will have all the support he needs from everyone associated with the club."
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.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Monday evening saw Freddie Clarke in A League action against Exeter, Saturday saw him make his Aviva Premiership debut. And both games resulted in wins! Freddie spoke to GRTV after the 39-30 win over Sale.
Speaking to the local media this week, back row Ross Moriarty spoke of the squad's determination to cut out mistakes, and get a composed performance in as they host Sale Sharks at Kingsholm on Saturday.
Billy Burns will get the headlines for his 16 point haul, but it was a team of heroes who went to La Rochelle and fought like demons to secure a magnificent 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win on Saturday evening.
Gloucester Rugby welcome back scrum-halves Willi Heinz and Greig Laidlaw to the matchday squad as they make five changes to their starting line-up for Saturday evening's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final against Stade Rochelais.
Charlie Beckett and Tom Hudson have been regulars in the Gloucester United side that's competed in the Aviva Premiership A League this season and are hoping to be involved in the semi-final against Wasps on Monday evening at Kingsholm, kick off 7:30pm.