Sam Warburton: Wales captain will 'not need surgery' on ankle injury

By Catrin HeleddBBC Wales Sport
Sam Warburton
Sam Warburton has played only three games for Cardiff Blues this season
European Challenge Cup: Cardiff Blues v Montpellier
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff Date: Friday, 11 December Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales and online plus score updates on the BBC Sport website

Wales captain Sam Warburton's ankle injury will sideline him for just "six to eight weeks", boosting his chances of being fit for the 2016 Six Nations.

Warburton, 27, told BBC Radio Wales he will not need surgery after being injured in Cardiff Blues' Pro12 loss at Ospreys and hopes to return in January.

"I saw the specialist and he's [aiming] for mid-January," Warburton said.

"It's nice not to have the surgery. It would have been my fifth operation at 27, so it's nice I dodged that one."

Warburton suffered the injury when tackled by Wales rival Justin Tipuric while making only his third Blues appearance of the season and missed last Friday's morale-boosting 20-16 Pro12 win against Connacht.

He will also be absent for the region's back-to-back European Challenge Cup matches against Montpellier, the first of which will be played on Friday in Cardiff and the next in France on 17 December.

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Warburton will then miss the festive Pro12 Welsh derbies against Newport Gwent Dragons and Scarlets, but he could return for Blues' final two Challenge Cup Pool 3 games against Harlequins and Calvisano in January.

"I'm targeting those European games to try and get back for," Warburton continued. "That's the general guideline that we're going for.

"I'll be in the boot for a couple of weeks, which is just protocol just to keep the weight off the ligament.

"Missing the Christmas derbies, that is a blow. That's normally a sell-out and a great crowd."

Cardiff Blues defence coach Graham Steadman added: "Sam's had some good news, which is pleasing for him and for everyone at the club. He's in a good place."

Steadman is eyeing a win against Montpellier and says they will miss "invaluable" 2013 British and Irish Lions captain Warburton.

"We are on a bit of a run," Steadman added. "We have some important fixtures over the next few weeks. It's a massive, massive month for us."

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