Ben Foden will miss England's autumn internationals after it was confirmed he requires surgery on damaged ankle ligaments.
The Northampton full-back was hurt whilst playing for his club side against Bath in Aviva Premiership action last Friday and was sent to see a specialist during the week to discover the full extent of the damage.
It has now been confirmed that Foden needs an operation on the ankle, meaning he will sidelined for between 10 and 12 weeks.
The length of his recovery period means the 27-year-old will not figure in Stuart Lancaster's plans for the fixtures against Fiji, Australia and South Africa at Twickenham.
Mike Brown and Alex Goode both started Tests at full-back on the summer tour of South Africa and will be the leading contenders for the No.15 shirt.
"It is unfortunate for Ben who has had a good run in the side and is a valuable leader," national boss Lancaster said.
"But we have a number of back three players who are playing well and this offers a chance for them."
Foden, who has played in 27 of England's last 28 Test matches, will also be missed by his club side in the coming months.
Saints will be without one of their star names for their first four Heineken Cup matches against Glasgow, Castres and then back-to-back fixtures with Ulster.
"Ben had been playing well at the start of this season and to lose him to injury is obviously disappointing," said Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder.
"But we know that he is a dedicated professional and will work his hardest with our performance team to come back as a better and fitter player.
"In the meantime Ben's injury will give opportunities for the other back three players like James Wilson, Scott Armstrong and Noah Cato to show what they can do in the Saints first team."