Ulster's Stephen Ferris, who was recently capped for Ireland against the Pacific Islanders, will be sidelined for four to six weeks following a small operation on his hand.
The 21-year-old back rower injured his hand during last Saturday's Magners League draw between Ulster and Leinster at Ravenhill.
After a scan on Sunday, he had a small operation on Monday to repair some ligaments in his hand and is likely to be out of action for a period of between four to six weeks.
Ferris is certain to miss Ulster's back-to-back Heineken Cup encounters with London Irish and the festive Magners League games with both Connacht and Leinster.
Ulster complete the pool stages of the Heineken Cup early next month against Llanelli and Toulouse and the Dungannon clubman could make his return in one of those games.