England forward Maro Itoje has been ruled out of the autumn internationals after fracturing a hand in Saracens’ Champions Cup win over Scarlets.
The lock, 21, will require surgery on his right hand and is expected to be out of action for six weeks.
Saracens boss Mark McCall said: “For any team to lose a player of the ability of Maro is a blow.”
England head coach Eddie Jones has been hit by an injury crisis in the open-side flanker position.
Incumbent seven James Haskell will miss all four autumn Tests because of a toe injury, while his possible replacements – Sam Jones, Mike Williams and Jack Clifford – are also sidelined.
European player of the year Itoje, who can play in the back row and the second row, appeared to be the next viable option at open-side for Jones.
He suffered the injury when he trapped his arm awkwardly while making a tackle on Saturday.
Itoje, who turns 22 on Friday, was one of England’s most impressive players as England secured the Grand Slam this year, a tournament in which he made his international debut.
In his first full season with Saracens and England, he did not lose a game he started.
McCall said: “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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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/37745940