THE Ospreys have confirmed that Hanno Dirksen will be out of rugby until the start of next season at the earliest.
The region's top try scorer in 2011-12 has been sidelined since undergoing surgery on a troublesome knee cartilage in November.
But any hopes the South Africa-born player had of returning for the closing weeks of the current campaign have been dashed.
"We are working to get back Hanno back for the start of next season," said head coach Steve Tandy.
"He has had the odd setback with the knee since his surgery and has been knocked back a bit.
"We don't want to take any risks with him, so the thinking is that he needs a few months to recover yet.
"He is a young player with all his career in front of him and a month or two either way is not going to make a world of difference. The main thing is he gets back fit and well."
The immediate priority for the Ospreys is to focus on Connacht in Galway this evening, where a depleted side will again be looking to deliver a performance.
Missing 23 players against Ulster last week, the region were outstanding, no-one more so than hooker Scott Baldwin, whose display saw him to off the graph for ball carries.
But the hooker said it was important for the team to back up the performance in Galway.
"We just need to be the same as we were in Ulster last week," he said.
"We need to be direct, cross gain-lines and let the backs do the fancy work.
"Connacht are no mugs. They lose fewer players than Ulster to international duty and they're a tight bunch who are capable of getting results.
"They beat Biarritz in the Heineken Cup this year in Connacht. They've taken a lot of scalps at home and also a few away, so we'll need to be on our mettle."
Alun Wyn Jones leads the Ospreys at The Sportsground after starting his comeback from injury with an immense show against Ulster.
"You saw what he was like when he came off the bench," said Baldwin. "It was a massive performance.
"I think in the first ruck he took about four people out.
"He's just one of those people that leads by example and inspires the team."