Northampton Saints have been dealt a major blow after Harry Mallinder was ruled out for the remainder of the season through injury.
The talented utility back suffered knee ligament damage just five minutes into Saints' Challenge Cup defeat to Clermont Auvergne earlier this month.
Mallinder underwent surgery on Tuesday morning in an attempt to repair the damage, but now faces an extended spell on the sidelines as he works his way back to full fitness.
Posting an update on Instagram on Monday, the 22-year-old thanked fans for their support and vowed to come back stronger after the injury.
"Operation #7 in the morning. I'm devastated, but it's an opportunity to become a better player and person,' he wrote. "I'm grateful to have such good people with me on my journey, thank you for all of your continued support."
The absence of Mallinder, who is able to play across the back-line, leaves Northampton coach Chris Boyd painfully short of numbers during a busy part of the campaign.
Andy Symons, Ken Pisi, Nafi Tuitavake and Rory Hutchinson are all currently out of action, while fly-half Dan Biggar is also due to join up with Wales for the upcoming autumn internationals.
Boyd, however, insists neither club nor player can afford to dwell too long on the news.
"Harry's a genuinely good player and generally important player for the Saints so it's a massive blow for him and for us," Boyd said.
"Injuries are part of life as a rugby player and you can't base yourself around one, two or any individuals.
"It's massively disappointing for Harry and for us, but life goes on for him and the Saints."