Sale hooker Andy Titterrell has had a neck operation and will miss the opening month of the Guinness Premiership season.
Titterrell, 25, injured his neck during England's summer tour of Australia and has undergone surgery to repair a decompression of two discs.
"I am disappointed, but it's all part of the game and I have to get on with things as best I can," he said.
"I'll miss the pre-season friendly fixtures and am hoping to be back in contention early in October."
The versatile England international, who can play at hooker or in the back row, was a key component of Sale's Premiership title-winning side last season.
"This season will be tough for us because as champions, every team will be out to beat us," he added.
"The squad are all working hard in training, and the boys are confident of being able to challenge for the title again."