England and Bristol Bears have been dealt a blow after Harry Randall was ruled out of the end-of-year internationals due to a hamstring injury.
The busy scrum-half has undergone surgery on the torn muscle and has subsequently been ruled out for up to four months, according to his club side.
This surgery news compounds that result and also gives England coach Eddie Jones a selection decision as he looks to build on a series win over Australia.
England chances suffer a setback
Although the Bristol scrum-half was not included in a 36-player squad named by Jones for a recent training camp, he remains in the frame for Test action.
Jones instead picked Ben Youngs, Jack van Poortvliet and Alex Mitchell as his number nine options, with Danny Care once again out in the cold for England.
“Harry had surgery on a hamstring tear yesterday and will be out for between three and four months,” said Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam on Wednesday.
“He did it tackling Jack Nowell and got in an awkward position. It is a loss for us, but time for Andy (Uren) and Tom (Whiteley) to step up.
“We are not looking elsewhere at the moment. We lost Harry one week last year, then Andy the next and then Tom and then two others. I hope it is not the same.
“It is frustrating for us, but all the more so for Harry. Some of the hamstring came off the bone, and he had surgery to repair it.
“I feel for him, but I have always said injuries are an opportunity to improve, and he will come back fighting fit.”
England begin their Autumn Nations Series against Argentina on November 6 and then face Japan, New Zealand and South Africa over the following weekends.
Meanwhile, Bristol are currently preparing for their next Premiership game, against Gloucester, as they look to bounce back from that reversal against Exeter.
Bans for Mako Vunipola and Jacob Umaga
Meanwhile, England prop Mako Vunipola has been handed a three-week ban after he was red carded in Saracens’ Premiership victory over Newcastle Falcons.
While this is a blow for his club, England will be relieved that the suspension doesn’t run into their Test schedule as he is available for their year-end opener.
The 70-cap international was sent-off for dangerous play in a ruck or maul at Kingston Park last weekend and will miss league ties against Bath and Exeter.
He will also be absent for the Premiership Rugby Cup clash with London Irish, but the ban could be reduced by one game if he completes a World Rugby course.
Wasps full-back Jacob Umaga has also received a three-week ban after he was dismissed against Northampton Saints in their Premiership meeting last week.
He was charged with tackling, charging, pulling or grasping the jumper (Northampton wing Courtnall Skosan) in the air, contrary to World Rugby law 9.17.
Umaga is currently injured, and the RFU said that the fixtures he will miss will be determined following confirmation from Wasps when he’s fit to play again.