Denis Leamy has been ruled out of the Six Nations Championship and is unlikely to feature again this season for Munster as he will have to undergo surgery for a troublesome hip injury.
Munster coach Tony McGahan confirmed that the 30-year-old is facing four months on the sidelines as he tries to resolve an injury which has restricted him for the last six months.
The Tipperary man, who has only featured seven times for Munster this season, travelled to see a specialist in London on Thursday.
"Denis will be out probably for four months. He will have an operation, and is getting it finalised," said McGahan.
Leamy came off the bench against Wales in the World Cup quarter-final to win his 57th cap.
He has started just four games for Munster since then, including the home tie in the Heineken Cup against Scarlets, and while he featured in their other three games in the competition, it was always as a substitute.
It is the latest major setback for the back-row, who has played 145 times for Munster, after he was ruled out for the second half of the season two years ago with a knee injury.
McGahan is now considering his options, with 21-year-old Paddy Butler a contender to be promoted to the Heineken Cup squad, and the option of bringing somebody in from outside still available.
"We will have to look at the numbers -- we have registration to close on five or six at five o'clock on Tuesday and then we have an opportunity after that deadline if we get through to the quarter-finals," said McGahan.
"But we still have a few guys like David Wallace and Felix Jones to come back into the squad so that immediately eats up two places already.
"We have some good back-rowers here in the club so we haven't really discussed that," added the coach, who said that the final decision would be made today.