Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter says its likely England star Henry Slade will be sidelined for roughly four months after sustaining a broken leg and ankle damage in his side’s 41-27 win over Wasps on Saturday.
Centre Slade was stretchered off with just 15 minutes remaining at the Ricoh Arena following a tackle from home winger Sailosi Tagicakibau as he looked to clear out the Exeter playmaker.
Slade, 22, had a plate and wiring inserted during what Baxter described as ‘a pretty major operation’ on Sunday.
The loss of Slade is an untimely blow for both club and country and the news did not get any better for Baxter, who also confirmed back-row forward Dave Ewers is also unlikely to play again this year due to a knee ligament injury.
"The reality is it is a decent injury, so you would normally talk around four months for an injury like this," said Baxter. "That can change relatively significantly both ways though depending on a number of factors.
"We are certainly not pencilling in any date for Henry’s return because we know it is long-term. We will start talking about a return date in eight to 10 weeks’ time when we know a bit more – it will take a bit of time though and a lengthy rehab process."
Baxter continued: "He has had what all indications suggest was a successful operation.
"He has had a plate inserted into the lower part of his leg, he had to have some ligament repair and a bit of wire instead at the lower end of his leg too.
"It was a pretty major operation but certainly not one we don’t expect him to make a full recovery from."
Although not as long as Slade, Zimbabwe-born Ewers is also set for a long spell of recovery.
His knee injury saw him miss the win at Wasps, and the 25-year-old will be out for some time.
"Dave will be a little while. He has a fairly significant knee injury so it is going to be a fair few weeks before we see Dave. That is relatively long-term," said Baxter. "It is difficult to put a timescale on these things but he will be a significant period of time."