Ben Foden will miss the England Autumn internationals after it was revealed the England full-back needs ligament surgery to his right ankle.
Foden, who limped out of Northampton’s clash with Bath last Friday, will be out of action for around 10-12 weeks and could be back for the round three or four of the Heineken Cup against Ulster on December 7 and 15.
England’s Autumn Test series kicks off on November 10 with a match against Fiji on November 10 before facing Australia, South Africa and New Zealand the following three weeks.
Harlequins’ Mike Brown, Saracens’ Alex Goode and Bath’s Nick Abendanon will be the contenders for the No.15 shirt.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster said: “It is unfortunate for Ben who has had a good run in the side and is a valuable leader. But we have a number of back three players who are playing well and this offers a chance for them.
“Our medics will work closely with Northampton Saints to help Ben’s recovery and I am sure he will be available for the RBS 6 Nations.”
Northampton boss Jim Mallinder said: “Ben had been playing well at the start of this season and to lose him to injury is obviously disappointing.
“But we know that he is a dedicated professional and will work his hardest with our performance team to come back as a better and fitter player.”