Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson has described the loss of Gethin Jenkins as "a big blow to us and a big blow to Wales" but thinks the prop could return before the end of the Six Nations.
Jenkins underwent surgery to repair a ruptured bicep on Tuesday and the 36-year-old will be out for around three months.
The veteran's injury, sustained during a home defeat against Ulster in the Pro12 this month, leaves him facing the prospect of playing no part in the Six Nations.
Yet Wilson is backing Wales' record cap-holder to return ahead of schedule.
"He is one of the most professional men in terms of prehab, rehab and looking after his body." said Wilson.
"Whatever he is asked to do to get that right I know he will do it and I imagine he'll be back before three months.
"It's a big blow for us and it's a big blow for Wales. He keeps proving to people that age is just a number.
"His performances for Cardiff Blues and Wales have been of a real high standard. That's how he got the shirt back with Wales and that's how he's kept hold of it."
Wales start their Six Nations campaign against Italy on February 5 and conclude the competition with a trip to Paris to face France on March 18.