The saga surrounding Valentino Rossi's shoulder took a further 'twist' at Mugello on Thursday when the reigning MotoGP world champion revealed it may take months to heal properly - and could even require surgery.

This is the same injury, sustained during a motocross training accident in mid-April - shortly after his victory in the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix - that was initially described as 'bruising'.

But Rossi subsequently revealed that his shoulder had almost dislocated - damaging ligaments in the process - and that he also had a small crack in the bone.

The Italian nursed the injury on his way to a close third in round two at Jerez, but expected to be back to full fitness by Le Mans on May 21-23.

Although he didn't blame his shoulder for the lengthy French defeat he suffered at the hands of team-mate and title leader Jorge Lorenzo, the shoulder had been far from perfect and Rossi painted a bleak picture on the eve of his home grand prix.

"The problem is that the shoulder is not 100 percent stable, so I need more time," he began. "Usually a normal person would need three and a half months or four months to come back to 100 per cent.

"It is one month and a half month now. I need to work very much to improve my muscle, to try to keep the shoulder stable with the power of the muscle, so that I have less pain and more force to ride the bike.

"If it is not possible [to recover] then at the end of the season I will have surgery. It is a big problem unfortunately."

That recovery timeline of several months is very different from the one Rossi gave when he first spoke publically of his injury during the Spanish Grand Prix - on the 29th of April - when he said: "This type of injury needs three weeks".

Rossi explained that after Jerez his rate of recovery had suddenly declined.

"The problem is that one week after Jerez the [rate of recovery] became stable. In general the shoulder did not improve very much from that moment," he said. "So when I wake up in the morning for one hour and a half or two hours, is a big, big pain.

"I always have problems sleeping in the night. During the day it becomes a bit better. For a normal life I am quite good. I am able to drive the car and wear jeans, but to ride the bike is difficult. So the improvement is very, very slow," he warned.

Rossi starts round four of the 2010 championship nine points behind Lorenzo, who has won the last two races.

What do you think? Is Rossi's shoulder really that bad, or is the #46 seeking to reduce pressure ahead of his home race, which he won from 2002-2008...