Courtney Lawes has suffered a fresh injury setback after undergoing surgery on an elbow injury.
The England star suffered the problem during pre-season training and had an operation to rectify it on Tuesday.
But Saints are still hopeful the 23-year-old will be fit for the Aviva Premiership opener at Gloucester on September 1.
A club spokesperson said: “Courtney has had an operation on an elbow injury and is rehabbing well.”
It is the latest in a series of injury problems for the powerful lock, who hasn’t played for Saints since February.
He missed the majority of England’s Six Nations campaign with a knee problem, only appearing as a replacement in the clash with Wales.
And after returning to training, Lawes was then struck down by a shin injury, which ruled him out of Saints’ Aviva Premiership run-in.
Club and country – Lawes is in England’s 32-man EPS squad for this year’s autumn internationals – will now hope the player makes a speedy recovery.