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."
Gloucester's win in Treviso last week means that they need a bonus point win against Bayonne on Saturday evening to secure a home quarter-final (kick off 8pm), but Tim Taylor wants the team to focus on the performance first and foremost.
Billy Burns and Man of the Match Richard Hibbard spoke to GRTV after the 41-0 win in Treviso, on a day when preparations weren't ideal. They felt the team's attitude was key and also praised the travelling support.
Matt Scott was again in impressive try scoring form for the Cherry and Whites on Saturday, and the Scotsman laid praise on his fellow backs for their attacking skills in a big 55-19 win over Worcester Warriors
Jonny May spilled blood for the cause on Saturday, before going on to score the first try in the 55-19 Aviva Premiership victory over Worcester. He told GRTV that the win was a reward for the hard work the squad have been putting in.
Knowing a bonus point win would secure a home quarter-final, Gloucester completed their European mission in some style on Saturday evening, sweeping aside a spirited but outgunned Aviron Bayonnais scoring 10 tries on their way to a 64-19 victory.
The Gloucester Rugby Heroes are back this month, and the huge array of past stars of Cherry and White, with a sprinkling of sporting legends and TV stars will assemble to take on the South African Legends on Sunday 29th January at Kingsholm.