Aviva Premiership Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has confirmed that hooker Chris Whitehead is likely to miss the next three months as he looks to cure an on-going neck issue.
The 26-year-old forward, who recently penned a new two-year contract with the Aviva Premiership club, is due to undergo surgery later this week.
Baxter said: "Chris has a relatively serious injury and is going to have an operation on Tuesday, and he is going to be out for ten to 12 weeks.
"Chris has an on-going neck problem, a typical hooker's problem, a bit of a degenerative issue, which we ultimately have to make a decision on. It is either a case of letting it get worse or deal with it now.
"Our other three hookers - Neil Clark, Simon Alcott and Jack Yeandle - are fit and raring to go, so we felt the time was right now. Chris is going to be with us for a long time."
"We don't want to keep playing him when the injury is worsening, and end up breaking him. "
"We feel it is right to get him treated now, get him 100 per cent, and he should be back before the end of the season."