England have been dealt a blow with the news that prop Alex Corbisiero will be out of action until early 2015 with a 'shoulder ligament tear', according to his club Northampton.
He sustained the injury during the Saints' 31-24 victory over Bath at the weekend and is expected to miss his country's autumn internationals.
The 26-year-old made his international debut in 2011 and has since made 19 caps.
Fearing the worse
It comes at a time when head coach Stuart Lancaster is already without Saracens' Mako Vunipola and Leicester pair Dan Cole and Tom Youngs.
England face New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia in back-to-back weekends throughout November.
After the game at Franklin's Gardens on saturday, there was a lot of hope that Corbisiero's injury was not too serious.
Northampton's director of rugby, Jim Mallinder initially told BBC Radio 5 live that the Englishman should be fit to face London Irish this weekend, describing the injury as "hopefully just a stinger".
Corbisiero has had an unfortunate couple of years with injury problems, having missed most of last season with a knee injury, returning only for their final few games in their successful Premiership play-off campaign.
The former London Irishman will be disappointed to be ruled out of the game against his former club on saturday, having signed from them in 2013, he has only played five games for the Saints.
His last game for England was the test match against Argentina last November, missing the 2014 Six Nations and summer tour of New Zealand since then.
He will be aiming to be back before the start of the 2015 Six Nations campaign, which begins on Friday 6 February against Wales.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms