Wales centre George North has undergone surgery on an injured cheekbone but should be cleared to return to action within two to three weeks.
The vastly experienced 30-year-old suffered the injury while playing in the Ospreys’ Champions Cup fixture against Leicester, which the Tigers won 23-17.
North went off at half-time and Ospreys boss Toby Booth has on Wednesday given an update saying that he “will be good within a two to three-week period”.
Good news for Wales
The news will also please Warren Gatland, whose opening game of his second stint as Wales head coach is a Six Nations match with Ireland on February 4.
North has played a remarkable 109 times for his country and started all four of the Autumn Nations Series games last month under former coach Wayne Pivac.
He is also likely to be a reliable option to Gatland as the coach looks to reboot Wales after a disappointing year that saw them lose to both Italy and Georgia.
Ospreys head coach Booth said that North had an operation on Wednesday, adding: “It’s a cheekbone and he’s okay. All has gone well.
“He will be good within a two to three-week period. Any facial injury is always a worry, but he is all good.
Nice shiny black eye
“I have seen him this week and he has got a nice shiny black eye.
“Outside of that, he’s quite buoyant, so that probably speaks volumes about how he feels.”
North is set to miss the Ospreys clash with Montpellier this weekend and also the United Rugby Championship festive derbies against the Scarlets and Cardiff.
That should give the outside centre plenty of time to get up to full speed before Wales’ Six Nations opener against Ireland, who Gatland is excited to take on.
“They are the best team in the world and rightly so,” Gatland told the media on Tuesday.
“Getting them first up at home is not the worst thing. It is a tournament of momentum and if you win your first game you have got a good chance of doing well.”
He added: “Getting the Irish first up is probably the one game you want at home. There is probably a bit more pressure on them and we will be pretty excited about getting ready for that game.”
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