England lock Maro Itoje will be out of action for six weeks due to a hand injury picked up in Saracens' win over the Scarlets this weekend.
Itoje suffered a fractured hand in the 44-26 win at Allianz Park and will consequently miss all four of England's autumn internationals next month.
The impressive 21-year-old will require surgery to repair the damage and his absence is yet another blow to an already injury-hit England squad.
Saracens coach Mark McCall commented:
"For any team to lose a player of the ability of Maro is a blow...
"He will be missed. What's now important for Maro is his recovery and we look forward to his return later this season."
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Reigning European player of the year Itoje was rumoured to have been set to play in the back row as cover for the injured James Haskell and now England boss Eddie Jones will have a real selection conundrum on his hands.
Itoje's partner in the second row for both club and country, George Kruis, is also sidelined with an ankle injury leaving England looking thin in the pack.
Jones will likely look to Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes to fill the holes left by Kruis and Itoje whilst youngsters Josh Beaumont and Luke Wallace are in the frame to slot into the number seven shirt.
Despite the young talent available to slot into Itoje's roll, his loss is a big one for England as he has undoubtedly been one of the best young players in world rugby over the past year or so.
He picked up the injury after making a tackle and having his hand awkwardly trapped underneath two Scarlets players.
Leicester's Ed Slater is another candidate for the second row berth who may benefit from Itoje's unexpected absence and will be hoping to earn his first cap when England open their autumn international campaign on November 12 against the Springboks.
In total, England are without 10 squad players after a series of injuries picked up in a controversial training camp organised by Jones.
After their matchup with South Africa, England will take on Fiji, Argentina and finally Australia.
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