Damian Welch sidelined following surgery on pectoral injury
Damian Welch will miss a significant chunk of Exeter Chiefs' season after undergoing surgery to repair a pectoral injury.
The 33-year-old lock's injury is Exeter's fourth long-term blow, following quickly after Henry Slade's broken leg, Luke Cowan-Dickie's thumb fracture and a knee problem for Dave Ewers.
Exeter have stormed to second place in the Aviva Premiership table courtesy of six wins in seven matches so far this term, but must now contend with a growing injury list.
"Damian is looking like he is out long-term, which is unfortunate," said Exeter's head coach Rob Baxter.
Welch suffered the pectoral problem in Exeter's 42-10 Champions Cup defeat at Clermont Auvergne on December 20.
Baxter admitted the Chiefs must now play a waiting game to discover just how long they must do without one of their pack's mainstays.
"He's having an operation on his chest-pec area and we will know more of the details post-op," said Baxter.
"That is looking like that is it for a little while for him - it's more likely to be months rather than weeks."