New England head coach Eddie Jones has been dealt another injury blow with the news that Jonny May could miss the upcoming Six Nations tournament. The explosive Gloucester wing, who made three appearances for his country during their doomed 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign, sustained a knee injury in the thrilling 39-39 Aviva Premiership draw with Harlequins at Twickenham on 27 December.
England have already lost the services of Henry Slade for the duration of the competition after the talented young Exeter Chiefs fly-half suffered a broken leg and a dislocated ankle in a domestic match against Wasps last month. Club teammate Dave Ewers is also sidelined and Northampton prop Kieran Brookes recently underwent surgery to correct a knee problem suffered during the European Champions Cup tie against Racing 92.
While that particular trio are yet to properly establish themselves at international level, May has proven himself to be a critical fixture in the backline with six tries in his 19 senior appearances to date. Optimism that his injury would prove to be minor has now been doused after Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys confirmed that he would likely need to go under the knife.
"Jonny has suffered a pretty significant knee injury that requires surgery. He's seeing a specialist on Tuesday and based on the outcome of that we will have a much clearer picture on what needs to be done," he told the Gloucester Citizen.
"Most importantly it is a huge blow for Jonny to suffer an injury like that at this stage of the season but knowing him and his dedication, he will leave no stone unturned in his recovery. For us as a club, to lose your starting international wing takes away a huge threat. But while it is disappointing it means there is an opportunity for others and Henry Purdy will get that chance this weekend.
"Over the last 18 months he has been very good. When he arrived he would not have been expecting much game time but he played a lot last season at centre and wing and performed at a really high level and has continued to do so. We also have David Halaifonua so while Jonny is a huge loss and impossible to replace we do have good cover."
Jones, who recently dispensed of predecessor Stuart Lancaster's coaching staff and appointed Paul Gustard and Steve Borthwick to his new setup, will take charge of England for the first time against Scotland at Murrayfield on 6 February. Their Six Nations campaign also includes trips to Rome and Paris as well as home clashes with Wales and Ireland.
The former South Africa and Japan boss is yet to appoint a new captain, although it has been rumoured that controversial hooker Dylan Hartley could be in line to succeed Chris Robshaw. Northampton's Alex King is also expected to be named as England's new attack coach.