Wales and Cardiff Blues flanker Sam Warburton is expected to be sidelined for six weeks after suffering a knee injury.
Warburton suffered a medial ligament strain during Blues’ PRO12 clash against Ulster in Belfast last week.
Blues head coach Danny Wilson confirmed Warburton’s absence but does not envisage any problems with regard to his availability for this summer’s British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
Warren Gatland will name his British & Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand in less than two weeks, providing plenty of incentive for players to impress over the weekend.
Owen Farrell, Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes have been shortlisted for the Rugby Players’ Association’s England Player of the Year award.
Speaking at a Cardiff Blues press conference Tuesday, Wilson said: “Sam has a low-grade medial strain, which will put him out for approximately six weeks, which won’t interfere with the Lions. He shouldn’t have any problem regarding the Lions.
“‘Low grade’ was the important bit of news. Sam is very experienced and a good professional who knows his body. He knows if he works hard, he will be back relatively quickly.
“I think it is relatively good news, considering how it could have been.”
Warburton, who captained the Lions in Australia four years ago, is the bookmakers’ favourite to skipper them in New Zealand.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland announces his Lions tour squad next Wednesday. The Lions leave for New Zealand on May 29.
Warburton, who has won 74 Wales caps and is regarded as European international rugby’s leading openside flanker, will be key to the Lions’ Test series hopes.
Wilson did not rule out Warburton being fit if the Blues are involved in the European Champions Cup qualification play-off final, which takes places during the final weekend in May.
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