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Tommy Bowe will not know if surgery to repair posterior cruciate ligament and meniscal injuries to his right knee has been a success until he begins his rehabilitation.
Bowe was injured in the early stages of Ireland's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina and underwent surgery in October.
The injury will prevent Bowe from playing any part in Ireland RBS Six Nations defence but it is still too early to say whether the operation was a success.
Bowe accepts he faces a long road back to fitness but is pleased with the progress he has made since the surgery.
"I’m still in the leg brace. Maybe moving about is a little bit easier than it was two weeks ago. It’s still very early stages. I’ll just let the body heal the way it does," Bowe is quoted as saying in the Irish Examiner.
"I had surgery six weeks ago on Monday and so far things are looking good in the way that it’s feeling a lot better week on week.
"Hopefully in January, I’ll be able to take the brace off and be able to hopefully be told that the surgery has done what it’s meant to do.
"I can start rehabbing from there and get myself back into getting the leg back up the strength it needs to be to start playing again."
Bowe is not the only Ulster player to find himself sidelined with Dan Tuohy, Darren Cave and Peter Nelson all picking up significant injuries in last weekend's PRO12 win against Edinburgh.
Iain Henderson was also injured in the same match and there are fears the hamstring tear could see him miss the Six Nations.
"It’s a huge setback. I think Iain showed the world-class nature and the talent that he has at the World (Cup). And I think for his ball carrying ability, to have someone like Paul O’Connell stepping out of the Irish fold, the likes of Hendy would have been great to come into that set-up," Bowe added.
"He’s going to be a big loss for both Ulster and Ireland. He’s got incredible healing power and that’s hopefully something that will be a good thing because he ruptured some sort of ligaments in his finger, and it looked like he could be out for a couple of months, but he was back playing after three or four weeks. He is a very quick healer and he has a huge pain threshold.