Cardiff Blues and Wales flanker Sam Warburton suffered a huge injury blow today as it was confirmed he faces four months on the sidelines after neck surgery.

It is a bitter disappointment for his region, as he will miss the first half of the season, and his country, with the injury ruling Warburton out of the Autumn Internationals.

The British and Irish Lions captain only returned to Cardiff Blues training last week, after being given extended time off following the tour of New Zealand.

A club statement placed on the official website read, “Sam Warburton will undergo surgery following a recurrence of a long-standing neck injury.

“The Cardiff Blues flanker, who led the British & Irish Lions to a drawn Test series with New Zealand in the summer, exacerbated the injury in training this week.

“He has undergone scans and has been reviewed by a consultant who confirmed the management plan. It is likely that Sam will miss a period of up to four months.”

Warburton last suffered from a flare up of the neck problem during last year’s Autumn Internationals, but will be hoping this surgery can solve the problem once and for all.

It doesn’t help either Cardiff or Wales in the short-term though, with the Blues already without Ellis Jenkins and James Botham from the flanker ranks, while the national team have seen Scarlets’ James Davies ruled out until December at the earliest and Ross Moriarty not yet return to fitness.

Cardiff Blues will have to rely on Josh Navidi to nail down the seven jersey, while Justin Tipuric, Thomas Young and Aaron Shingler will do battle for a Wales starting berth.