Worcester Warriors have had a big blow ahead of their two-leg Championship play-off final against Bristol by losing this season's main goal kicker Andy Symons with a serious knee injury.
Centre Symons has been ruled out for "five to six months" after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament in training.
Symons had also missed Worcester's last three matches following a head injury.
But, although Warriors hope full-back Chris Pennell and Max Stelling will be fit, Symons is ruled until the autumn.
"He's ruptured his ACL," said director of rugby Dean Ryan. "We'll see him out for five to six months."
Ryan is already without both his senior scrum-halves Charlie Mulchrone (broken foot) and Jonny Arr (suspended), as well as young full-back Ben Howard (head injury).
|Championship play-off semi-final dates|
|Following their 56-36 aggregate triumph over Rotherham, Bristol, mindful of losing 27-8 in the first leg at London Welsh a year ago, have opted to play this year's home leg of the final first, on Wednesday 20 May (19:45 BST).|
|The second leg is set for Sixways on Wednesday 27 May (19:45 BST).|
On the plus side, he is still targeting a return for both Pennell and Stelling for next Wednesday night's first leg, which Bristol have chosen to stage at Ashton Gate.
"Having a few extra days gives us a chance," Ryan told BBC Sport. "We've got a number of people on tight timelines. Pennell is one of them. There's a good chance he is available.
"Stelling is one of those people for whom it is feasible that he will be playing next week, and the week after for the second leg, but we need a lot of things to keep going smoothly to get to that situation.
"He has been a huge loss. So has Andy Symons. Stelling has been a mainstay of a lot of things we've built our attack around. But, if it happens that they're not fit, we've had Ryan Mills coming in there and Alex Grove has a lot of experience."
Symons, Worcester's first-choice kicker since the turn of the year, has been out since suffering concussion in Warriors' penultimate league fixture at Cornish Pirates.
Stelling, Warriors' second-top try scorer injured his hamstring in crossing for his 16th of the season in the 30-26 home defeat by Bristol at Sixways on 25 April, a game which also saw the hosts lose England full-back Pennell with a knee injury.