Head coach Rob Baxter has confirmed the 33-year-old lock is to be ruled out for several months after picking up a chest injury in the recent European Champions Cup game away to ASM Clermont Auvergne.
Welch, who is undergoing surgery today on the pectoral muscle injury, has been a key member of Baxter's side since arriving from the Scarlets back in the summer of 2012.
His absence, though, is another concern for the Chiefs, who in recent weeks have lost Henry Slade (broken leg), Luke Cowan-Dickie (broken thumb) and Dave Ewers (knee) to long-term injuries.
“Damian is looking like he is out long-term, which is unfortunate,” said Baxter. “He’s having an operation on his chest-pec area and we will know more of the details post-op.
“That is looking like that is it for a little while for him – it's more likely to be months rather than weeks.”
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