Ulster's Craig Gilroy to miss limited game time despite cheekbone surgery
Ulster's Craig Gilroy underwent surgery to have a metal plate inserted yesterday after the province confirmed he broke a cheekbone against La Rochelle on Saturday.
He is not expected to miss more than a month of action though, with up to four weeks seemingly consistent with his type of injury.
While it is a blow, it seems that he will miss limited game time.
He will naturally not travel to Coventry for the province's crunch Champions Cup clash with Wasps on Sunday (3.15pm kick-off) but after that crucial contest, Ulster have something of a mid-season break.
With European competition then on the back-burner until April - whether it resumes with Ulster still in the competition will become clear on Sunday - the PRO14 does not return until February 9.
Les Kiss's men do have a potentially crucial fixture with Edinburgh to come a week later, but again the province have been handed a manageable run during the international window.
The injury does, however, torpedo whatever hopes the 26-year-old had of catching Joe Schmidt's eye ahead of Ireland's Six Nations campaign. The Bangor man hasn't featured for the national side since scoring a hat-trick against Italy in last season's championship.
Given Schmidt's selections since, he would have been an outside bet to make today's initial squad despite his try-scoring form of late.
Having missed the start of the season for Ulster with a back problem, he had scored six tries in his previous five games before the injury.
For this week, it seems likely that Gilroy's absence will prompt a back-line reshuffle rather than a like-for-like replacement.
When he went off on Saturday, he was replaced by centre Darren Cave, with Louis Luidk moving from the centre to the wing, a move that certainly appeared to produce a balanced line-up.
Other options would be bringing Andrew Trimble or Rob Lyttle onto the right wing.
Elsewhere, the side continues to monitor the well-being of tight-head prop Wiehahn Herbst ahead of the game against Wasps.
The South African picked up a calf injury against Leinster, missing the win over La Rochelle and will be assessed this week.
Paul Marshall, Robbie Diack and Schalk van der Merwe are ruled out.