De Luca blow for Scotland
Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson has been hit with a second major blow after it was confirmed centre Nick De Luca could miss most of the RBS 6 Nations.
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The Edinburgh centre faces around two months on the sidelines after his club confirmed he is to undergo surgery to repair a fractured eye socket.
The news will come as a huge disappointment to Johnson, who has already lost the services of record-breaking scrum-half Mike Blair after he decided to retire from the international game earlier this week.
The Australian former Wales head coach must now decide who will take over from the 85-times capped number nine.
He will now also have to search for a replacement for De Luca, who has been a mainstay of the international side since winning his first cap five years ago, before naming his Six Nations training squad on Monday.
De Luca, who has 38 caps for his country, sustained the injury while training with Edinburgh last month but club medics had to wait until now before they could confirm the length of his recovery time.
A statement from the club read: "Edinburgh Rugby confirmed today that Nick De Luca will be unavailable for selection for around two months, following an operation to a fractured eye socket.
"It was deemed that the operation would be the best course of action to support the quickest return to playing.
"De Luca's progress will continue to be monitored by the expert medical staff at Edinburgh Rugby and Spire Murrayfield Hospital."
Scotland kick-off their Six Nations campaign on February 2 away to England, and the SRU today declined to comment on the news of De Luca's absence.
De Luca will miss that and may still be out of action by the time the side concludes their fixtures with a trip to Paris to face France on March 16.
His club side will also have to do without their influential Dumfries-born back as they face Munster in the Heineken Cup on Sunday.
The Murrayfield outfit will go with Ben Cairns and Matt Scott in the midfield as they look to pick up their first pool points of this season's tournament following four painful defeats.
Last year's semi-finalists have had a season to forget so far but head coach Michael Bradley hopes to finally give his team's supporters something to cheer about.
He told www.edinburghrugby.org: "This is our final home match in this competition and we would like to acknowledge the support that the fans have given us over the last couple of weeks with a big performance.
"We would take a lot of confidence from getting a win against Munster in this match and putting pressure on them in terms of quarter-final qualification.
"They haven't won away from home in this competition yet and will understand the importance of that to their chances of qualification, which makes them very dangerous.
"Somebody's going to be disappointed on Sunday after the game and it's our intention that it will be Munster."