Motorcycle racer Tom Neave looks set to miss the first two rounds of the new season after undergoing an urgent shoulder operation.
With just weeks left before the National Superstock 1000 Championship begins, the 22-year-old rider from Market Rasen has been told to rest his shoulder for a few weeks before beginning physiotherapy to build up strength in his arm.
The problem began following a crash at Thruxton in early August last year when he dislocated his shoulder.
Although still suffering some discomfort he decided to take part in the next round of the Superstock 600 Championship, at Cadwell Park, where he won the race, with his twin brother Tim taking second place.
But the shoulder dislocated again while training in the gym as he prepared for the new season.
It was quickly put back into place, but dislocated again at the Motorcycle Show, in London, a few weeks later.
Former World Superbike champion Neil Hodgson was at the event and suggested Neave saw his surgeon in Macclesfield if it happened again.
Ironically, when he slipped in heavy snow on the family farm, the shoulder dislocated for the third time in four weeks and Neave decided the only way forward was surgery, which he had underwent last Wednesday.
“With this happening three times in the last four weeks I had no choice but to have the surgery to reconstruct the ball joint,” he said.
“They took a bit of bone from my shoulder to build up the joint and I now have to keep the arm as still as possible to aid the healing process.
“Moving up to ride the bigger bike would have put a lot more strain on my shoulders so I realised I would be unable to race to my full potential without having the surgery so it had to be done.
“I am absolutely gutted to be missing the beginning of the season, but I will be doing everything I can to speed the job up and be back on the bike and racing as soon as possible.”
Neave will miss races at Donington Park and Brands Hatch, but is setting his sights on a possible return to action at Oulton Park, in May.