WALES star Dan Lydiate is set to go under the knife as soon as he returns from the tour to Australia.
The 24-year-old Newport Gwent Dragons flanker, who starts tomorrow’s first Test in Bris-bane, will have an operation on his troublesome right foot.
His region are hopeful that he will make a swift recovery to be back in contention for the start of the RaboDirect Pro12 campaign, but it would be no surprise if the blindside watches the season kick-off from the sidelines.
Lydiate almost headed home from last year’s World Cup after injuring his ankle in the group stages.
He then picked up a fresh injury on his regional return against I Cavalieri Prato in the autumn.
Another ankle injury – in the return Amlin Challenge Cup fixture against the Italian minnows – meant that he missed the Six Nations opener against Ireland but he returned to be named player of the tournament.
Lydiate, whose Dragons contract expires next summer, has played despite some discomfort for some time and with his foot heavily strapp-ed.
It is hoped surgery, likely to take place within days of the third Test on June 23, will solve the problem ahead of a hectic international year that will see Lydiate and his back row colleague Toby Faletau frequently on Wales rather than Dragons duty.
The autumn internationals run from November 10 to December 1 while the Six Nations see them absent for February and a good part of March.
Then the season finale will see players looking to avoid injury ahead of the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia, which starts on June 1.
The increasing international demands are summed up by the fact that Lydiate won 13 Wales caps last season yet played just 12 times for the Dragons.