Ireland wing Tommy Bowe is set to miss the forthcoming Six Nations Championship as he recovers from knee surgery.
Bowe suffered the knee ligament injury during Ulster's European Cup defeat against Northampton last Saturday and has now had an operation which will rule him out for four months.
Ireland kick off their Six Nations campaign against defending champions Wales in Cardiff on February 2 and Bowe isn't expected to be fit by then.
Instead, Bowe, who has scored 26 tries in 51 Tests, will concentrate on regaining full fitness ahead of the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.
"Tommy Bowe has undergone successful surgery on his knee and is now expected to be out for approximately four months," an Ulster statement on Thursday read.
"The winger sustained significant lateral ligament damage to his right knee in the closing stages of Ulster's 10-9 Heineken Cup loss to Northampton."
Bowe was a key member of the 2009 Lions squad in South Africa, starting all three Tests, and would be among the leading candidates to make coach Warren Gatland's squad for the Australian trip.