England suffered yet another injury setback when fly-half Owen Farrell was ruled out of the entire Six Nations Championship on Tuesday with a knee ligament injury.
The stand-off, who can also play at centre, was assessed by England medical staff on Monday and the Rugby Football Union confirmed in a statement Tuesday that he had suffered a “high grade medial ligament strain that will keep him out for the duration of the Championship”.
Farrell sustained the injury during Saracens’ European Champions Cup loss away to Clermont on Sunday after going off in the 19th minute following a collision with the French club’s flanker, Julien Bardy.
During the November internationals, Farrell — the son of England backs coach Andy Farrell — lost his starting place at No 10 to George Ford and England also have two more fly-halves in their Six Nations squad in Stephen Myler and Danny Cipriani.
England, who will stage the 2015 World Cup later this year, had already seen powerhouse centre Manu Tuilagi sidelined with a groin problem ahead of their Six Nations opener away to Wales in Cardiff on February 6 while fellow midfielders Brad Barritt (knee) and Kyle Eastmond (shoulder) are other back-line injury concerns.
“Itâ€™s a real shame for Owen that he sustained this injury and we wish him the best for his recovery,” said England coach Stuart Lancaster.
“We are fortunate to have three other No 10s in the squad in what is a very competitive position and we will look forward to seeing how they go over the RBS 6 Nations.
“We will continue to assess and treat the other playersâ€™ injuries and will provide an update at the (tournament) launch tomorrow (Wednesday).”