While it remains relatively unclear as to how long Valentino Rossi is destined to be sidelined through injury this year, what is certain is that FIAT Yamaha will have to source a replacement eventually.

The chance to ride for the championship-winning team is one to relish for any prospective rider, but the options remain surprisingly slim when MotoGP's rules and regulations are taken into consideration.

Unsurprisingly, the obvious candidates to replace Rossi are Yamaha's satellite representative Colin Edwards or Ben Spies.

However, things aren't quite so clear cut as that, particularly where the highly-regarded Spies is concerned. Indeed, while many would consider this to be the perfect opportunity to test the American's suitability on the factory-prepared machine, he remains a 'rookie'.

With no rookie permitted to ride for a factory-backed team (with exception to Suzuki), Spies's entry status could well prevent him from getting a go on the bike that many believe he will be riding in the future.

Even so, it isn't as though FIAT Yamaha are feeling particularly compelled to replace Rossi straight away, with the team expected to throw its weight behind just the single bike of championship leader Jorge Lorenzo for the next two events.

Only when it is contracted to do so will FIAT Yamaha consider a replacement, leaving the already sparse MotoGP grid down to a mere 16 competitors at Silverstone... Whether this will prompt Dorna into providing some dispensation, or offer a clearer definition of the rule in this circumstance, remains to be seen.

Should Edwards or Spies go up alongside Lorenzo, the spare seat at Tech 3 Yamaha is tipped to fall to either James Toseland or Cal Crutchlow. Experience would suggest that Toseland is a more seamless choice, but Crutchlow is well regarded within the Yamaha camp and while his maiden World Superbike season has peaked and troughed, it's worth noting he also comes with good backing from Tech 3 title sponsor Monster.

Of course, there are more than Edwards and Spies potentially in contention - Yamaha's test riders for instance -, so we'll open the floor and ask: Who do you think should keep Rossi's hallowed seat warm until he returns?

Post your suggestions in 'Comments'...

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me me me me!!!

Is there, really, anybody who can "replace" Rossi at (near) his level?