Former Wales captain Sam Warburton does not expect to recover from injury in time to feature at the Six Nations next year.
Warburton was ruled out for four months after undergoing neck surgery on a "long-standing issue" in September.
The flanker led the British and Irish Lions to a 1-1 series draw against New Zealand in June and July, despite struggling with an ankle injury in the build-up to the tour.
Having taken time to get up to speed ahead of the Tests against the All Blacks, Warburton does not anticipate being in a position to play any part for Warren Gatland's side in February and March.
"I think if I did manage to play in the Six Nations next year then I'd see that as a big bonus," Warburton said in quotes reported by the BBC.
"I'm not going to get my hopes up, purely because I wouldn't have played since July and like the Lions tour showed, it took me a good four games to get up to speed there.
"So I presume I need a good month of rugby at the [Cardiff] Blues before I can think about playing internationals again."