Joey Carbery: Ireland fly-half doubt for Six Nations opener
Ireland and Leinster fly-half Joey Carbery could miss the start of the Six Nations after having ankle surgery.
Carbery, 21, suffered the injury during the European Champions Cup win over Northampton on 9 December, has been ruled out for six weeks.
Ireland travel to Scotland on 4 February, before facing Italy in Rome a week later.
Head coach Joe Schmidt is already without centre Jared Payne for the opening games of the Six Nations.
Carbery made his Ireland debut against New Zealand last month and has impressed in his three appearances.
The New Zealand-born player had an operation last week for "syndesmosois repiar" on the ankle.
Ulster's Payne, 31, is sidelined with a kidney injury and will miss the matches against Scotland, Italy and France.
He could return for Ireland's final two fixtures, away to Wales on 10 March and then a Dublin game against England eight days later.
Meanwhile, Leinster will also be without Ireland full-back Rob Kearney for their Pro12 derby with Munster at Thomond Park on Boxing Day.
Kearney was replaced late in Saturday's thumping win over Northampton because of an ankle injury.
Leinster say Kearney's fitness for the New Year's Eve game against Ulster will be assessed next week while they are hopeful that Johnny Sexton will be available for that game.
Sexton has been out of action since sustaining a hamstring injury against the All Blacks last month.