Michele Campagnaro played in Tests against Australia, Scotland and Fiji this summer

Exeter Chiefs and Italy centre Michele Campagnaro could miss the rest of the season with knee ligament damage.

The 24-year-old picked up the injury in a pre-season game against Cardiff, and is likely to have surgery which will see him miss next year’s Six Nations.

“Campo looks relatively serious,” said Exeter boss Rob Baxter. “I think he’s going to have to have an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) operation.”

“Everyone knows that’s a long-term, six to nine months type injury.”

Premiership champions Exeter suffered a last-minute defeat by Gloucester on Friday in their opening match of the new season.

Campagnaro is on an injury list which includes Thomas Waldrom, James Short, Mitch Lees and England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie.

“The thing we’ve got with most of the other injuries is they’re guys who’ll be returning through the course of the season, so they’ll add impetus,” director of rugby Baxter told BBC Radio Devon.

“Shorty’s broken his hand, so that’s reduced our options, but we’ve got some minutes into Nowellsy [Jack Nowell] now.”

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