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Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones will need a second shoulder operation after being injured on international duty last month, the veteran lock's club side said Wednesday.
Jones, rugby union's most-capped international with a total of 161 Tests including 12 for the British and Irish Lions, was hurt in Wales' 54-16 defeat by New Zealand in Cardiff.
Toby Booth, the coach of the Swansea-based Ospreys, the 36-year-old Jones's club side, said Wednesday: "He has had one operation and he needs a second, so we won't really know (a timescale for his recovery) until the second one is done, which is in a couple of weeks."
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac had already said he does not think Jones will be available for a Six Nations campaign which the title-holders start with a match against Ireland in Dublin on February 5.
Booth, however, echoed the New Zealander's belief that Jones, now just one shy of 150 caps for Wales alone, will return before the end of this season.
"We will see where that (second operation) is and what that gives us," he added. "With all the best scans in the world, until you get in there, you don't really know. But he is very confident, and that's Al for you, and we will put everything around him to make his recovery as quick as possible.
"The worst thing you can say to Al is that he won't do something. He has got that attitude and mindset, and that's what sets him apart from a lot of other people.
"We will get him back as fast as his mind and his body allows. We are pretty confident about that."
Ospreys centre Jonathan Davies took over as captain for Wales' second autumn international, against world champions South Africa before flanker Ellis Jenkins led the side out for Tests with Fiji and Australia.
- Tipuric and North troubles -
Jones is not alone among the Ospreys' contingent of Wales players in being sidelined, with George North and Justin Tipuric missing all of the autumn campaign.
Tipuric, a flanker, is currently nursing a shoulder problem while wing cum centre North has been out of action with knee trouble.
Back-row forward Tipuric hopes to be back in action around Christmas, with Booth saying: "He has been training with us in non-contact stuff, so we believe he is on track."
North is aiming for a return early in the new year but Booth, asked if he was a Six Nations doubt, replied: "I can't answer that.
"Often with long-term injuries you get, the first thing is the surgery's success, then you get quite a steep improvement.
"It is the final third or final quarter of their rehabilitation where it ebbs and flows, depending on how they react. So I can't really answer that, but the signs are encouraging, for sure."