Scotland prop Euan Murray could be out of action until next year.
The 29-year-old Northampton star was hoping to be sidelined for only a few weeks after limping out of this summer’s Lions tour.
But following surgery on his fibula and damaged ankle ligaments, he may miss the rest of 2009.
Murray will do everything he can to return sooner than expected, saying: “I am working hard on the leg. I had an operation five-and-a-half weeks ago and things are going well with the rehab.
“It is difficult to estimate when I will be back, but I am hoping to be back playing this year.”