Flanker Justin Tipuric will be missing from Wales’ tour of South Africa this summer with a shoulder injury.
24-year-old Tipuric is not the only man out of the squad, with British and Irish Lions and Wales captain Sam Warburton also out with shoulder problems.
This has left the side without their two of their senior open-side flankers. Yet, Racing Metro’s Dan Lydiate and Cardiff Blues lock Bradley Davies are tipped to fill the spot.
Tipuric has been cleared to play Ospreys last game of the season on Saturday against Irish side Connacht, despite being pencilled in for surgery next week.
Tipuric’s team-mates James King and Ashley Beck are also sidelined and out of the tour, with both due to undergo surgery next week.
King is set to be out for up to four months, whilst centre Beck has been suffering with a long-term hip condition.
Leigh Halfpenny will also miss the tour in South Africa, after dislocating his shoulder back in March, when Wales lost 29-18 to England in the Six Nations.
Whilst it leaves Gatland a bit short of senior players, the former Lions coach will not decide on the squad he will be taking until after a trial match.
The match will be played between the Probables and Possibles at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea on 30th May.
Gatland’s two assistants, Rob Howley and Robin McBryde, will take charge of the sides.
It will be the first of its kind in 14 years and Gatland believes it will help for this summer’s tour, as well as the World Cup in England next year.
“It’s a good opportunity for the players but it’s also important for us in our short-term as well as long-term preparation,” the New Zealander told BBC Sport. “It’s a chance for players to experience the set-up and round off a week’s training with us in a meaningful match and hopefully put their hand up for this summer’s tour.
“The tour itself is going to be extremely tough and the game will be important in ensuring we don’t head into it cold.”
Gatland will name his 31-man squad for the tour in the post-match press conference, ahead of their warm-up match against Eastern Province Kings in Port Elizabeth on the 10th June.
From there, the Red Dragons will travel north to Durban for the first test match on 14th June, with the final game of the series the following week against the Springboks in Nelspruit.
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