Courtney Lawes’ hopes of being selected for the Lions could be dashed after Northampton confirmed he needs pectoral surgery and is likely to be out for three months.
The 32-year-old was injured during England training last week, forcing him out of the Six Nations match against Wales.
Lawes now faces a race to regain fitness before the end of the season and he won’t have played again before Lions coach Warren Gatland is due to name a squad to take on South Africa.
Courtney Lawes will miss the remainder of England’s Six Nations campaign through injury
His England place has been taken by another Saint — David Ribbans.
It is another untimely setback for Lawes, who missed the Autumn Nations Cup after ankle surgery in October and has only played four times since.
His injury came shortly after scrum-half Harry Randall damaged an ankle in training, which Bristol have confirmed will keep the 23-year-old out for two months.
Meanwhile, unused England squad newcomer Paolo Odogwu is expected to play for Wasps against Gloucester on Saturday, to ensure he has some vital game time.
The 32-year-old flanker (bottom left) will undergo surgery after picking up a pectoral injury
It remains to be seen whether it affects his selection for the British and Irish Lions squad