Manu Tuilagi is very likely to miss next year's Six Nations after having to undergo surgery on a chest injury, BBC Sport has reported.
The Leicester and England player, 22, tore a pectoral muscle playing against Newcastle in September but was expected to return towards the end of this month.
But Richard Cockerill, Leicester Tigers director of rugby, said Tuilagi is unlikely to feature until February after complications in his rehab.
The Samoan born centre, who has been capped 21 times for England, has already missed the entire autumn international series. He also appeared as a replacement in the final Lions test against Australia this summer.
"Unfortunately Manu has not been able to recover from his pectoral injury by rehab so he had surgery on Monday to repair that," Cockerill told BBC Radio Leicester.
"He had a reaction right at the end of his rehab, thus he will probably be out for three months so that's obviously disappointing-and a blow."
England's Six Nations campaign starts away to France on February 1
Before then, however, England face New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday hoping to maintain a perfect record in their autumn internationals.
England beat Australia just over a week ago before dispatching of Argentina a week later, but the All Blacks will provide the sternest test for Stuart Lancaster's side.
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