Tomás O'Leary is likely to be out of action for at least four months after undergoing surgery on his fractured and dislocated ankle over the weekend.
The Munster scrum-half suffered the injury while playing against the Llanelli Scarlets in the Magners League on Friday and misses out on the British & Irish Lions Tour of South Africa as a result.
“It was a phone call I didn't want,” Lions coach Ian McGeechan admitted. “I'm obviously desperately disappointed for the player.
“But we'll take our time and keep our eye on things. I won't rush in naming a replacement. I'm not looking to name a replacement for ten to 14 days. There's some rugby to watch and I'll take my time.”
Leading the list of contenders will be Scotland captain Mike Blair, who will have been disappointed to have lost out on a place in the original squad, while Dwayne Peel, Danny Care and Peter Stringer could also feature in the Scot's thoughts.
The latter will replace O'Leary for Munster's Heineken Cup semi-final clash against Leinster at Croke Park on Saturday, with Leinster coach Michael Cheika adding his name to the list of those who have sympathized with the Cork number nine.
"It's absolutely terrible for the player, not just the game (this weekend) but because of the opportunity on the Lions tour," the Australian told reporters.