Coach Stuart Lancaster admits the injury to Dan Cole has hit England hard but has backed David Wilson to impress as his replacement against Ireland this weekend.
Cole has been ruled out of the rest of the Six Nations with a bulging disc in his neck which is trapping a nerve, although it has not been confirmed how long he will be out of action.
"Losing your specialist tight-head is the most damaging injury for us - most international coaches would say the same," Lancaster told Sky Sports News.
"He was doing a bench press and he was down in strength in one arm, which then alerted everyone to the need for further investigation.
"It was then on the resulting scans that we saw the bulging disc. My understanding from the medics was that it happened over a period of time and was not a one-off incident that caused it.
"Obviously now that it has been diagnosed, it's not worth taking the risk over, we need to allow to heal properly.
"We've got David Wilson, whose played a lot of games for us and is just coming back so we're fortunate in that regard, but you never want to lose your tighthead.
"He's such a good player for club and country. We have to let nature take its course with a bulging disc in his neck. It's going to be months rather than weeks, but Leicester and ourselves will do the right thing for him."
Wilson, who has only just returned from a calf injury, is expected to deputise at Twickenham on Saturday.
"It's going to be a big ask for him to go the distance but I'm very confident in his ability to start and play well," added Lancaster. "He's an outstanding tighthead. He played his best rugby in the summer against Argentina in the Barbarians game.
"It will be a big ask, but it will mean we will have to look deeper into our talent pool at tighthead. We're blessed with young tightheads in this country and the next stage is to bring them into the England setup."
Lancaster doesn't expect to make any other changes to his starting line-up against Ireland having named unchanged sides in the first two matches of the tournament.
"We've still got a decision to make on the composition of the bench, but tighthead aside I think we'll be looking at a similar team," he said. "It's not blind loyalty, they've earned the right to have a go again."