Lions skipper Paul O’Connell has openly admitted that he is still a long way off a return to action.
The man who led the 2009 Lions in South Africa hasn’t played since Ireland’s Six Nations defeat to Scotland in March.
Ireland supporters had hoped their talisman would be fit for the start of the autumn international series but O’Connell himself has stated this won’t be the case.
O’Connell is instead targeting a pre-Christmas return, although he admits that even that goal is far from set in stone.
"Hopefully I will be back before Christmas, but I don't really know yet," said O'Connell.
"I had an infection on my pubic bone. It didn't become clear for six weeks and by then the infection had taken root, so I had to go on IV antibiotics. That took a long time and it took a lot out of me."
O’Connell has already missed five Magners League games with Munster so far this season and will be a mere spectator when the former European Champions kick off their Heineken Cup campaign at London Irish this weekend.
The second row is still unable to take part in training with his Munster team-mates, meaning it remains impossible to put a definite date on his return.
"I'm not back in full training yet, hopefully that will happen in the next few weeks. I'll have to do a bit of a mini pre-season.
”From when I'm back on the field it might be about six weeks.”