England and Leicester flanker Tom Croft has been ruled out of action for the whole season following a knee injury picked up in the Tigers' season-opening victory over Worcester at the weekend.

The 27-year-old, who represented the British and Irish Lions in Australia over the summer, has had to have reconstructive surgery after suffering damage to his cruciate knee ligament.

This will be Croft's second long-term injury in recent years after a neck-break against Harlequins in April 2012 left him on the sidelines for eight months.

Returning in January of this year he forced his way back in to the England team and his injury will come as a big blow to the national team as well as his club side. 

Leicester’s director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, confirmed the news to the Daily Mail

"Tom had a bang on the knee at the weekend," he said.

"We felt it was relatively innocuous but after further investigation the ACL (anterior cruciate) ligament was ruptured and he has had surgery to reconstruct it and that’s his season finished.

"It’s horrendous bad luck for Tom because it is only last year that he came back from a very bad neck injury and did so well for England but the Lions as well.

"But these things happen. Tom will make a full recovery but it’s his season over. It’s a blow but we have just got to get on with things."

Croft was part of the Leicester side which overcame Northampton Saints in the Premiership final at Twickenham last May, but the Tigers will be without him if they wish to retain the title this season.

Cockerill also confirmed his fly half and captain, Toby Flood, would not be fit to face Bath on Saturday as he is still recovering from concussion sustained in pre-season.

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