Brian O'Driscoll set for surgery as Ireland fear Paul O'Connell could also miss first Test
Brian O'Driscoll is due to undergo surgery on the ankle ligament trouble that has sidelined him for the autumn Tests.
Last Updated: 31/10/12 3:29pm
O'Driscoll, full-back Rob Kearney and hooker Rory Best will all miss forthcoming games against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina because of injuries.
Ireland head coach Declan Kidney told www.irishrugby.ie: "You just don't hold back on these things. If it (surgery) needs to be done, you get it done, and we are very lucky with the medical back-up that we have.
"He is frustrated. Everybody likes putting on a green jersey, but nobody more than Brian.
"We will miss him - we missed him during the Six Nations last season. That makes it all the more precious when he is around.
"The prognosis for him is eight to 12 weeks. I don't want to put pressure on Brian, but he's usually on the shorter side of that.
"If he manages to get in a few games towards the latter stages of the Heineken Cup (pool stages), and then to be ready for the Six Nations. We wish him well and God speed for a quick recovery."
With lock Paul O'Connell's training currently restricted, it could be that Kidney will require a new skipper for the November 10 appointment with South Africa in Dublin.
"We will assess all that now," Kidney added. "Paul has his own niggles with his back. He was hoping to get a bit of pitch-time this weekend.
"Captain can be an onerous position. We will let him recover first, we will look after the person first and then see what is right for the team."
Number eight Jamie Heaslip could emerge as the captaincy favourite if O'Connell is sidelined.
New Zealand-born prop Michael Bent, meanwhile, has been drafted straight into Ireland's squad ahead of the autumn series.
Bent, who qualifies for Ireland through his maternal grandmother, could play for Leinster against the Ospreys next Sunday and then be under consideration to face the Springboks six days later.
"He will work with Leinster on Wednesday, come back to Carton House (Ireland's training base) Thursday and Friday, and then a decision will be taken on whether he will have an involvement in Leinster's game on Sunday," Ireland team manager Michael Kearney said.
"For us, he could play in one or two or all three games in November. It depends on what happens in the next week or two. Declan (Fitzpatrick) has just returned from injury, and we are keeping our options open."
Bent, 26, has arrived in Ireland after playing for Taranaki in New Zealand's ITM Cup. He also made five Super 15 appearances for the Hurricanes earlier this year.
Kidney added: "It's our job to assemble the best Irish-qualified group together. In fairness to Leinster, they did a lot of groundwork in finding him.
"With the game-time the rest of the tighthead props have around the place, he's probably one of the most qualified in terms of being match-fit."