Scotland centre Nick De Luca could miss all of the RBS 6 Nations after his club Edinburgh confirmed he would be out for two months following surgery to repair a fractured eye socket.
The back, capped 38 times by Scotland, sustained the injury while training with his club last month but club medics had to wait until now before they could confirm their diagnosis.
"Edinburgh Rugby confirmed today that Nick De Luca will be unavailable for selection for around two months, following an operation to a fractured eye socket," a statement from the club read.
"It was deemed that the operation would be the best course of action to support the quickest return to playing.
"De Luca's progress will continue to be monitored by the expert medical staff at Edinburgh Rugby and Spire Murrayfield Hospital."
The injury will come as a huge blow to Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson, who has already lost the services of record-breaking scrum-half Mike Blair following his decision to retire from the international game earlier this week.
Johnson must now decide who will take over from the 85-times capped number nine and also search for a replacement for De Luca, who has been a mainstay of the international side since winning his first cap five years ago.
Scotland kick-off their Six Nations campaign on February 2 away to England.
De Luca will miss that and may still be out of action by the time the side concludes their fixtures with a trip to Paris to face France on March 16.
His club side will also have to do without their influntial Dumfries-born back as they face Munster in the Heineken Cup on Sunday.