Gavin Henson suffers 'serious shoulder injury' in Bristol's defeat against Sale
Gavin Henson is facing a massive blow after suffering a "serious shoulder injury" on his return to Aviva Premiership action for Bristol in their 31-13 defeat by Sale Sharks.
Henson, 34, was making his first appearance for the Premiership's basement side in their clash at Ashton Gate after a leg injury left him sidelined from September 3.
The former British and Irish Lion came off against the Sharks after only 12 minutes when he fell awkwardly on the point of his shoulder in a tackle.
Sale went on to crush Henson's side with tries from wings Paolo Odogwu and Byron McGuigan, full-back Mike Haley, replacement prop Eifion Lewis-Roberts and substitute Tom Curry.
McGuigan added two conversions and Dan Mugford booted another against two Bristol penalties from fly-half Shane Geraghty and a late David Lemi consolation try, which Geraghty converted.
Bristol director of rugby Andy Robinson was doubly distraught after the match with both Henson's latest set-back and a poor display in a game they had targeted to win in their battle to avoid relegation back to the Championship.
Robinson said: "It is a serious shoulder injury which is a real shame. We really feel for him. It is a potential operation that is needed to the shoulder but we will find out more later."
As for the defeat, Robinson added: "Our players kept going right to the final whistle but that is our worst performance. We have got to be better defensively and use the Anglo-Welsh games coming up to see if we can get a victory which will give a bit of confidence to everyone.
"For 25 minutes of this match, we had a couple of opportunities that we did not take. We turned too much ball over in the contact area.
"Defensively we dropped off and this is the nature of the Premiership in that you have to perform for more than 25 minutes. I feel for the supporters because we are in a slight hole."
Robinson continued: "This is solvable and we are confident we can achieve that. At the end, while there will be anger and frustration, life is for living. We have to understand the position we would be in. There is a long way to go and we are here to fight and perform."
And, after nine successive defeats in all competitions this season, Robinson is not deflated. "My confidence is fine."
Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond, meanwhile, praised his side and believes that full-back Haley is a player with big potential at Test level.
Haley has been called into England's training camp in Portugal this week and left to join national coach Eddie Jones and his party after the Bristol victory.
Diamond said: "Mike Haley has the x-factor. He is good under the high ball and is a very illusive runner. He is ungainly looking now and again but he breaks tackles and is difficult to bring down.
"Eddie has brought him into the 33-man squad to have a look at him at the highest level so I am sure Mike won't let anyone down if he gets a chance."
Diamond let off steam at half-time as two dropped passes from McGuigan robbed them of the bonus point before the interval - but McGuigan has had a lot on his mind over the weekend.
Diamond said: "Byron's wife had a baby on Saturday night at eight o'clock so he could easily have done what most modern players do and not play but he opted to play so we will forgive him for that.
"I don't expect bonus points in this competition. If you get them, it is a bonus. We took a couple of head knocks early doors but from this Monday, we are picking from a full-strength squad with everyone back from injury."