Teenage wing George North has scored four tries this season
Wales face a Six Nations wing crisis as teenager George North has been ruled out for up to 12 weeks after undergoing surgery on an injured shoulder.
The Scarlets star will now join Ospreys wing Shane Williams on the injured list for the start of the 2011 Six Nations.
The 18-year-old sustained the injury in Wales' disappointing draw with Fiji and went on to play the full 80 minutes in their autumn defeat to New Zealand.
Both Williams and North are set to miss Wales' games with England and Scotland.
Scarlets coach Nigel Davies admitted he was not entirely happy with the way the North's situation was handled.
"There's a little bit of frustration," said Davies.
"But we need to work together moving forward and we need to be able to manage these situations better.
"The original injury happened against Fiji, and he was deemed fit to play against New Zealand, which he duly did.
"Unfortunately, George has done some serious damage to his shoulder.
"When he returned here, our physios looked at him and we were a little bit concerned at the extent of the injury.
"He was then scanned and it became clear that it was a lot more serious than originally thought.
"The danger was that if it was left as it was, he could have dislocated it.
"We had to react to that, so he's been operated on, which will secure his shoulder."
Williams and North face a race against time to be fit for Wales' third Six Nations clash with Italy in Rome on 26 February.
North, though, will also miss the Llanelli region's final four Heineken Cup pool games - starting with their double-header against Italian side Treviso.
And as Wales start their Six Nations campaign against England in Cardiff on 4 February - followed by a trip to Scotland the following week - North is unlikely to feature in their first two Championship games.
It is a blow for the player and Wales coach Warren Gatland who called him into the squad after his impressive performances for the Scarlets this season - where the powerful wing scored four tries.
North scored a try double on his fairytale Wales debut against world champions South Africa at the Millennium Stadium but sustained his injury in his second cap against Fiji the following week.
He played well in their defeat to the mighty All Blacks and was a certainty for Gatland's Six Nations squad.
Wales' record try-scorer Williams, meanwhile, has also undergone shoulder surgery after dislocating his shoulder in Wales' November defeat to the Springboks.
Leigh Halfpenny is another Wales wing currently on the sidelines but the Cardiff Blues star is expected to return to regional action in their all-Wales Magners League derby with Ospreys on New Year's Eve.
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