Saracens lock Maro Itoje has been ruled out of England's autumn international series as he prepares to undergo surgery. The formidable lock suffered a fractured hand during Saturday's (22 October) 44-26 European Champions Cup Pool 3 victory over Scarlets at Allianz Arena and is expected to miss approximately six weeks.
"For any team to lose a player of the ability of Maro is a blow and he will be missed through the autumn for both Saracens and England," Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said on Monday. "What's now important for Maro is his recovery and we look forward to his return later this season."
Such an absence comes as a colossal blow to Eddie Jones, with Itoje, already tipped as a future England captain, having quickly established himself as an instrumental figure since making his Test bow during February's Six Nations defeat of Italy in Rome.
The versatile 21-year-old, who was set to be relied upon as a solution to Jones' ever-worsening openside crisis, becomes the latest in a long line of England players to be announced as missing or else extremely doubtful for upcoming fixtures against South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and Australia at Twickenham.
IBTimes UK runs through the full list of casualties below...
Itoje's trusted second-row partner for both club and country, the 26-year-old underwent surgery on a minor ankle injury last week and McCall predicted that he too would be sidelined for "a number of weeks".
Wasps flanker was never expected to play any part for England this autumn after being ruled out for between six and eight months following a procedure on his big toe in July.
Uncapped back-row was tipped to deputise for Wasps teammate Haskell at seven, but his international ambitions have been shelved for the time being after a fractured fibula and significant ankle injury sustained during a judo session at England's controversial three-day Brighton training camp in early October. He will miss around five months.
Harlequins man had established himself as a reliable replacement option during England's Six Nations Grand Slam success and summer whitewash of Australia, but will not be available this autumn as he recovers from an ankle injury suffered on Aviva Premiership duty against Exeter in September. Clifford also went under the knife and is not expected back until early December.
Zimbabwe-born lock was another openside contingency plan until he broke his arm for the third time in a year following a collision with Leicester teammate Matt Toomua that took place during warm-up drills before a 34-13 win over former club Worcester Warriors at Welford Road. Initial hopes that he was merely suffering from nerve irritation sadly proved to be misguided and Richard Cockerill claimed that an expected lay-off of four to six weeks had been upgraded to between eight and 12 because of his injury history.
Exeter hooker avoided a fracture during last weekend's European loss to Clermont Auvergne, but was believed to have suffered a badly sprained ankle and ligament damage. Exeter head coach Rob Baxter labelled the injury as "relatively serious" and does not expect to see him back on the field for the next few weeks.
Another casualty of that training camp that had Premiership clubs up in arms due to the timing and sheer intensity of the sessions, speedy wing Watson sustained a fractured jaw down in Brighton. When announcing the news three weeks ago, Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder said it was "too early" for a full medical prognosis but added it was "likely" that he would miss the autumn series.
Baxter claimed that the Chiefs had been informed of no serious injury to Nowell following that aforementioned camp, only for subsequent scans to reveal that he had picked up a quad tear measuring nine or 10 centimetres. An exact time frame for his recovery was not disclosed, although a frustrated Baxter, who said his player had been overloaded in training, did say that he would be out for a significant period of time.
Powerful centre has endured a truly torrid time with injuries over recent years and has not played for Leicester since the opening day of the season due to persistent groin problems. Cockerill recently express hope that Tuilagi would play some part over the next two or three weeks, but it seems incredibly unlikely that he will be in a position to represent England for only the second time since June 2014.