Sam Warburton could enter Wales' autumn series without having played a game since undergoing surgery to repair a fractured cheekbone sustained three weeks ago.

The Blues flanker will miss Friday night's Challenge Cup clash with Pau in Cardiff due to neck stiffness, leaving him short of match fitness ahead of captaining Wales against Australia on November 5.

Only one Pro 12 fixture remains before the Wallabies visit Principality Stadium - against the Scarlets on Friday week - and he is unlikely to be risked in that with four autumn internationals looming.

The British and Irish Lions skipper had a metal plate inserted into his cheekbone to repair the injury suffered against Leinster on October 1 and while the operation was a success, his comeback has been delayed.

A Blues statement read: "Sam Warburton was not considered for selection as a precaution after experiencing some residual stiffness in his neck, but has fully recovered from surgery on a fractured cheekbone."

Following on from the Wallabies clash, Wales take on Argentina, Japan and South Africa on consecutive Saturdays in a packed four-week schedule.

Meanwhile, doubts remain over the availability of winger George North for the Australia game.

This match falls outside World Rugby’s official test window, meaning his club don’t have to release him.

Northampton have so far said he will be unavailable, though the Welsh Rugby Union insist that he and Harelquins’ Jamie Roberts will play.