Ireland are almost certain to be without John Hayes and Jerry Flannery for the remainder of the Six Nations, Munster team manager Shaun Payne confirmed yesterday.
With England due to visit the Aviva Stadium on March 19 in the final round of the series, it was hoped that at least one of the two might have recovered in time to stake a claim for selection.
However, Hayes is expected be out of action for another three to four weeks with the groin injury, while the prognosis for Flannery remains a bit of a mystery.
The 36-times capped hooker has played just 46 minutes for his province this season due to ongoing calf problems.
"Jerry is receiving ongoing treatment with a number of specialists," said Payne.
"He's had more tests and is still awaiting a number of results. It's all to do with his calf muscle and it's very frustrating. He's a good way short of being match fit.
"We wouldn't rule him out (of the Six Nations) but it's an injury which just seems to defy expectations, and so at this stage it would be a real push.
"We just want to get to the bottom of the injury, and to know how to treat it properly. It simply can't happen that a calf tears that often. We have to determine the underlying cause."
There was some good news for Munster as David Wallace committed himself for another season. The veteran flanker is approaching 35, but has signed up for the 2011/12 season after signing a one-year extension.
Munster's next fixture is away to Aironi on Sunday and Tony McGahan will name his squad for Italy once he has assessed casualty list from last night's British and Irish Cup game in Bristol, a fixture which caused some consternation around the province last week.
Already depleted on account of national demands, Munster attempted to call up a large number of academy and development players to see them through a week in which their rescheduled 'A' fixture was sandwiched between two Magners League games.
The move was met with disapproval by several club sides, who could ill-afford to be under-manned ahead of a crucial weekend of AIL games.
Though most players were eventually released back, tensions lingered for a bit and Payne was keen to address the issue yesterday.
"That was a very tough situation for everybody involved. We all face the same situation. It's the Six Nations window and we lose guys as well, so I have complete sympathy for the clubs," he explained.
"It's absolutely in our interests that the clubs do well. We fully realise that they are the lifeblood of the system."