Leicester and England prop Dan Cole has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to a bulging disc in his neck, Richard Cockerill confirmed.
The 26-year-old is set for a rest period of "at least three months", which could turn into "six or nine months" after the forward experienced weakness during a gym session at St George's Park last week.
"The most important thing is Dan's welfare and he will hopefully play at the start of next season," Tigers boss Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury.
"He saw a specialist last night and is going to have some time out of the game to let it settle.
"That will certainly be for a three-month period and then he will have a re-scan and see where we go from then on.
"There is a very good chance that the bulging disc will recede and then he will be able to be integrated back into training.
"It's disappointing for Dan first and foremost and it is bitterly disappointing for the club with all of the injury issues we have had this season.
"It will need patience from him and patience from me - something I have learned to be good at this season - but if it is three months, six months, nine months, there is no rush.
"The first thing to do is to solve the problem and solve it for the long term which is the next 10 years of his playing career and the next 50 years of his life."