Saracens captain Steve Borthwick has torn a quadriceps muscle and will miss the first two games of the Aviva Premiership season.
Borthwick had been hoping a strong start to the new campaign would earn an England recall after he was left out of Martin Johnson's 32-man senior squad.
The lock skippered his country in the first 20 Tests of team director Johnson's reign but missed the summer tour of Australia and New Zealand with a knee problem.
Lewis Moody took over the leadership reins while second rows Tom Palmer, Dave Attwood and Courtney Lawes all impressed in Borthwick's absence.
The 30-year-old will be sidelined for Saracens' matches against London Irish at Twickenham (Sep 4) and Sale at Vicarage Road (Sep 12).
Borthwick is joined on his club's injury list by Andy Saull, who suffered a fractured hand in the pre-season victory over Bedford.
Saracens face Treviso in their final pre-season match on August 25, when Alex Goode will again start at fly-half alongside new signings Richard Wigglesworth and Kelly Brown.