Bath have suffered a blow with the news that Springbok flanker Francois Louw has been ruled out for three months.
The South African injured his knee in the West Countrymen’s 32-9 defeat to Sale Sharks on December 23 and, although it will not require surgery, Louw still faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
It adds to director of rugby Todd Blackadder’s woes in the back-row position with England’s Sam Underhill still out of action.
Although the 21-year-old is making progress and is expected to be back next week, Blackadder has warned about bringing him into the international reckoning too soon.
“He did a contact session and came through with flying colours but we still have to wait 24 hours,” Blackadder told the Guardian. “It is looking encouraging for next week but we still have to wait and see.
“I think we are asking a bit much of him to be talking about England. One of the goals we talked about on his return is just to complete 80 minutes symptom-free.
“If you have got something that’s not quite right and you keep asking: ‘Are you OK?’ Do you see what it does to him? For us, we are not asking him, we are just following protocol. In my experience the more you ask him the worse it is.”