Cape Town - Highlanders scrumhalf Aaron Smith is facing at least a month on the treatment after suffering an ankle injury during his side's Super Rugby loss to the Blues.
It occurred in the latter stages of their 33-26 defeat to the Blues in Round Six and boss Aaron Mauger has confirmed that he will be unavailable for "four to six weeks."
"He's probably going to be four to six weeks, hopefully earlier, but it's looking like that time, the end of April, start of May," Mauger said.
"He got it with a couple of minutes to go and it wasn't too bad at the start and he carried on for those last few minutes, but it was pretty sore afterwards."
The Highlanders have endured an inconsistent start to the season, losing three of their opening six matches, and the absence of Smith is a further blow to their chances of catching the top-two sides in the New Zealand Conference.
They have a bye this week but return to action in Round Eight when the Dunedin-based outfit face the Hurricanes at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Either Kayne Hammington or youngster Folau Fakatava are likely to deputise, but Mauger admits that they are looking to bolster the squad.
He added: "We're just having a look around at the moment and we'll probably have that sorted in the next couple of days.
"We're not in this week so we have a bit of time up our sleeves to have a look around."