Bath three-quarter Olly Barkley is looking increasingly unlikely to play any part in this season's RBS 6 Nations tournament.
Barkley, viewed by many judges as the man to fill England's number 12 shirt, has been sidelined since suffering a thumb injury when Bath were beaten by European Cup opponents Leinster in late January.
He subsequently underwent surgery - and although England still have two RBS 6 Nations games left, against France in Paris on March 12 and Ireland at Twickenham six days later, Barkley is battling the clock.
"Olly had the pins out on Tuesday," Bath coach Brian Ashton said.
"I think the operation has been successful - so it is going to be two or three weeks, I believe, before he is fit and available for selection."
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.