Centre Yannick Jauzion is set to miss the rest of France's RBS 6 Nations Championship campaign as he continues his recovery from a fractured toe.
The 27-year-old suffered the injury during his club side Toulouse's Top 14 victory over Pau at the end of January but was only expected to miss Les Bleus' games against Scotland and Ireland.
Jauzion's rehabilitation has been slower than anticipated, however, and he is definitely out of this weekend's clash with Italy.
He now admits the matches against England and Wales next month are also likely to come too soon for him, and he has targeted Toulouse's meeting against Perpignan on March 18 as his comeback game.
"I have had two to three weeks of recovery time but it will need more time," he said in L'Equipe.
"The France against England game on March 12 will come too soon and I will not be able to put myself forward for the game against Wales on March 18 after being out of action for six weeks.
"I will maybe return on that day for my club at Perpignan, but I am thinking more about the home game against Agen on March 25."
That would at least mean Jauzion, arguably the world's leading centre, would be available for Toulouse's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster the following weekend.
But his absence from the France line-up will come as a blow to Les Bleus coach Bernard Laporte, whose side have only sparkled in patches in this year's RBS 6 Nations.
They lost surprisingly to Scotland 20-16 in their opening game at Murrayfield before being forced to hold on grimly in the face of a resurgent second-half performance by Ireland a week later. France eventually emerged 43-31 winners.
Laporte, meanwhile, is sweating on the availability of captain Fabien Pelous ahead of Saturday's game against Italy. The lock has a stomach bug and was confined to his bed on Tuesday.
His fitness will be reassessed on Wednesday, the day Laporte and team manager Jo Maso announce their line-up for this weekend's match.
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21 April 2017, 7:22pm
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