England prop Alex Corbisiero is set to miss next year's Six Nations because he needs knee surgery.
The 27-year-old has played only once since the end of last season, in England's pre-World Cup game against France when he injured his back.
The Northampton loose-head will undergo an operation on Tuesday.
"Six Nations is a very long way off for him, I think his focus is on getting himself fit and back in the Northampton squad," said Saints boss Jim Mallinder.
"We have to keep positive with him, you don't chuck injured lads over the boat, you do whatever you can to get them fit as quickly as possible."
The procedure is not thought to be major, but will keep the British and Irish Lions forward out until well into the New Year.
"It's an operation which is just a bit of a clean out, nothing major, he just has a bit of a niggle," Mallinder added.
"It's not good for him, he is being positive and we are being positive. The surgeon is pretty positive he can sort him out, so he will go under the knife and hopefully he'll be back sooner rather than later."