Exeter prop Brett Sturgess faces the prospect of being out for up to 12 weeks after he broke his arm in the Chiefs' draw with Bath at Sandy Park last weekend.
It's an untimely blow for the Kettering-born player who suffered a similar injury to his other arm last season.
Exeter boss Rob Baxter losing Sturgess was a huge blow to the Chiefs.
"Sturge has broken his arm and he'll be having an operation today (Monday)," he revealed.
"It's a similar injury to the one he suffered last time but the other arm this time. He's likely to be out for eight, 10 or 12 weeks - it's a relatively serious injury."
Sturgess - who recently agreed a new two-year deal with the Devon club - has been a near ever-present in the number one jersey for the Chiefs this season and his absence will be deemed a loss ahead of a crucial period of fixtures.
This Saturday the Chiefs entertain Sturgess' former club Northampton Saints, before they return to Heineken Cup action with clashes against Clermont Auvergne (away, January 12) and Leinster (home, January 19).
However, Baxter expects Sturgess to come back fighting and feature in the final weeks of the campaign.
"Sturge is one of these guys who does do his rehab absolutely flat-out," he added.
"I think the physios are already booking themselves in for the long appointments they tend to have with Sturge!
"It's unfortunate for Sturge because the season has been going well for him, but at the same time it's an opportunity for someone else.
"Ben Moon went on and did well, Carl Rimmer came to us originally as a loosehead so there's an opportunity there for him to get some more time in his preferred position.
"Luke Cowan-Dickie is playing very well down at Plymouth at loosehead so we've got options.
"We do feel we've got a strong squad here so at times like this the guys have got to stand up and come in and do a good job for us."