WORCESTER Warriors fly-half Ryan Lamb has been ruled out for three months after a neck operation.
The former England Saxons player is expected to be out of action for the Greene King IPA Championship side until December.
The talented back instantly helped unlock Warriors’ attacking threat, playing a key role as his side scored 19 tries in their final eight games of last season.
Lamb joins last term’s skipper, Jonathan Thomas, former Cardiff Blues back-rower Andries Pretorius and Ryan Mills on the sidelines.
Former Wales international Thomas (calf injury) is unlikely to be available until October, Warriors spokesman Tom Parsons confirmed yesterday.
Warriors director of rugby Dean Ryan revealed the club’s injury problems after Friday night’s 26-6 friendly loss against Premiership side Exeter Chiefs.
Ryan was encouraged by Warriors’ display in wet conditions at Sixways.
But injuries to experienced players could be a blow for their curtain-raiser against Andy Robinson’s Bristol on Sunday.
Bristol, who missed out on promotion to the Premiership after a play-off defeat to London Welsh, have laid down a marker for the new term.
Robinson’s men enjoyed an eight-try romp against league rivals Plymouth Albion in a 46-17 success at Brickfields.
Ryan said: “Ryan (Lamb) has had a neck operation that will take him out for three months, and Jonathan (Thomas) has got a calf injury, as has Pretorius.
“It could be some time before Jonathan is back because it is quite a serious calf problem.
“We have got a number of injuries with some of our more experienced players, as well as Ryan Mills, who we knew would be missing.
“It would be great to get off to a good start, but it is not all about the Bristol match.”
Lamb joined Warriors in February 2014, scoring 52 points during the campaign, including a maiden try against former club Gloucester on the final day of last term.
He amassed almost 1,000 Premiership points during spells with Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints, London Irish and Gloucester.
Ignacio Mieres had the kicking duties against Exeter Chiefs, landing two penalties against his former team-mates but missing two other shots at goal.
Chris Pennell is another kicking option, although the full-back did not have a crack at goal in his first Warriors appearance since his England debut against New Zealand during the summer.
Wales international Pretorius and Mills, a centre, both joined Warriors in the summer.