Alec Hepburn: Exeter's England Saxons prop to miss much of 2017 with knee injury
Exeter prop Alec Hepburn could be out for 10 months after injuring his knee.
The 23-year-old, who was part of the England Saxons squad last summer, ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and damaged cartilage after slipping during a touch game in training.
Hepburn, who featured in last season's Premiership final defeat, had just got fit after breaking his hand in October but will now need to undergo surgery.
"It's a pretty significant injury," head coach Rob Baxter told BBC Sport.
"I feel very sorry for Alec, he's worked extremely hard to get back fit and was just getting to that stage where everything was done.
"He had a bit of a freak incident and now he's going to be out until next season.
"He'd played well enough at the end of last season to be taken on the Saxons tour where, truth be known, he was the standout prop on the tour.
"He's an improving player, we're expecting and hoping for him to be a very important player for us going forward, but these things happen."