Italy talisman Sergio Parisse faces a World Cup fitness fight after having fluid drained from his left leg.
The Stade Francais number eight had an operation in Paris on Monday after suffering his injury blow in Saturday’s 23-19 defeat to Wales in Cardiff.
The 31-year-old Italy captain will now face a race against time to be fit for the Azzurri’s World Cup opener against France at Twickenham on Saturday week.
The Italians will be desperate to have their leader and focal point back-rower back in time to face Les Bleus in London next weekend.
Italy released a medical bulletin on Tuesday but were refusing to put a timescale on Parisse’s return to fitness.
“Updates on the player’s recovery timescale will be transmitted in the coming days,” Italy’s statement said.
Italy will now hold out every hope the collateral damage from Saturday’s Cardiff clash does not claim a third World Cup victim, with Wales duo Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb ruled out after serious injury in the same contest.
Italy bosses expect further news on Luca Morisi and Gonzalo Garcia on Wednesday, both suffering sprains in Saturday’s final World Cup warm-up clash in Cardiff.
Italy know full well the size of the challenge of opening their Pool D battle against France, with just three wins from the two sides’ 36 meetings.
Any extended absence for Parisse would considerably weaken coach Jacques Brunel’s options, the classy number eight long since spearheading Italy’s approach.
Ireland and France are expected to progress to the quarter-finals from Pool D, and without Parisse Italy could be hard-pressed to upset the pre-tournament preconceptions.