Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi will not play again this season, throwing his participation in England’s World Cup campaign into doubt.
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill has confirmed that the groin injury that has already ruined Tuilagi's season will prevent him from featuring again for Tigers this term.
The 23-year-old sustained the injury against Ulster last October and has seen the date for his return repeatedly pushed back.
It is hoped that Tuilagi will be ready for England's World Cup training camp in early June. If he is fit it time, the 25-cap centre will have just three warm-up games – at most – to win a place in Stuart Lancaster's team for the global showpiece, which England open against Fiji on September 18.
"He won’t play this season. He’ll probably be fit in the early part of June ready for England’s World Cup preparations," Cockerill told the Daily Telegraph.
"He is improving, but improving slowly. Groins are probably the hardest things to deal with and get to the bottom of. I know that everyone would like it to be an exact science, but it’s not. He is a big, powerful guy. He is improving slowly but he’s not right yet."