Wales captain Matthew Rees looks certain to miss the World Cup after it emerged the Scarlets hooker could need surgery on his injured neck.
Wales coach Warren Gatland, who has already lost broken leg victim Morgan Stoddart for the tournament which starts in New Zealand next month, had hoped that any operation on the 30-year-old might be delayed until after the World Cup.
But Gatland admitted that 47-time capped Rees, who skippered Wales in the Six Nations and was a Test starter on the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, could go under the knife in the coming weeks.
"He has had an injection, but he is still in a lot of pain," said Gatland.
"It looks like he will need an operation sooner, rather than later. We will have to sit down and discuss things with him."
Wales begin their World Cup campaign against defending champions South Africa in Wellington on September 11 before facing Samoa, Fiji and Namibia in a tough-looking pool.
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