Leicester have confirmed that England flyhalf Toby Flood will likely miss the start of the Six Nations championship due to the knee injury he picked up playing against Sale last weekend.
The 26-year-old playmaker is facing four to six weeks on the sidelines, which also rules him out of the Tigers' do-or-die European Cup clash with Ulster.
England have already been hit by the news that centre Manu Tuilagi and lock Louis Deacon will miss the opener against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 4 due to injury.
Fellow Test lock Courtney Lawes is another player in a race against time, as he will be out injured for several weeks.
This follows after the Rugby Football Union confirmed on Wednesday that miscreant Danny Care will play no part in the team's Six Nations campaign after the latest off-field controversy.
Leicester Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury: "He [Flood] hurt his knee on Sunday and we initially thought it was just like a dead leg but it swelled up overnight and he went to see a specialist to determine the exact nature of the injury.
"It turns out that he has tweaked his ligaments and is likely to be out for four to six weeks, which is not as bad as we feared at one stage.
"But it still rules him out of the Wasps and Ulster games, which is not great after Manu Tuilagi and Louis Deacon's recent injuries."
Flood and Tuilagi, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, will both still be named in Stuart Lancaster's elite player squad on January 11.
Flood's absence for the start of the Six Nations would open the way for Charlie Hodgson's return at flyhalf - potentially with one or both of his Saracens teammates Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell in the centres.
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