(Reuters) - Exeter Chiefs' England winger Jack Nowell has suffered another setback on his return from a toe injury which could keep him out until the final few games of the season, the Premiership club's director of rugby Rob Baxter said.
Nowell, 27, has not played this season after undergoing toe surgery, with his last appearance coming in Exeter's 19-13 victory against the Wasps in October's Premiership final.
"I think it's going to be a little while before we see Jack," Baxter told British media. "At this stage it's a bit early to give the full extent of the injury; it's just one of those things."
"We held Jack back for a week to give him a couple of weeks of full training, and unfortunately in the second week, he pulled up with another injury and now we're going to have to wait a little longer until we get him back to full fitness."
Nowell, who was a part of the British & Lions squad that toured New Zealand in 2017, has not played for England since the 2019 World Cup.
But Baxter is confident the lack of international rugby will not count against Nowell when Lions coach Warren Gatland names his squad for this year's South Africa tour, which is still in doubt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Obviously he has got some concerns that he won't play international rugby (for England) this season and there is a Lions tour at the end he is desperate to be involved with," Baxter said.
"Without doubt I know the Lions management will be looking at players beyond just those playing international rugby, especially those who have played international rugby recently and only haven't been involved because of injuries like this."
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing)