TOM Savage is set to lose his fitness battle to face Newcastle Falcons on Saturday.
The Gloucester captain has been sidelined since tearing a pectoral muscle against Leicester Tigers in November.
A comeback at the beginning of the month had been tentatively pencilled into the diary but after missing that target, director of rugby Nigel Davies has revealed the versatile forward is still not ready to return.
Davies said: “He’s not far away, Newcastle is probably a week too soon but he is not far away from a return.”
It is hoped Savage will be available for the following week’s trip to Exeter Chiefs and Davies is confident the 24-year-old will have a major influence upon his return.
He is renowned for his uncompromising, no-nonsense approach to the game, something that was missing during the Cherry and Whites’ last outing, against Northampton Saints on March 1.
Davies added: “He’s a leader and at his best is a very good player that brings physicality, commitment and work ethic, and they are all attributes that we need in this group.
“Against Northampton Saints we were soft, whereas in the previous two we were hard, you can’t afford to do that in the Premiership.
“If you do not front up physically and are not up for it, any team in this league can beat you.
“He is very professional in what he does, technically he is very good but he also hits hard and carries hard. He will make an impact when he returns.”
Gloucester will also welcome back the England trio of Ben Morgan, Billy Twelvetrees and Jonny May on Thursday.
The Six Nations stars are unlikely to start at Kingsholm on Saturdcay but will be assessed at Hartpury and could feature in the match-day squad.
All three started at the Stadio Olympico with Twelvetrees the only one to be taken off, in the closing stages, after nursing an infected knee through the week, which could become a concern for the Cherry and Whites.