Stuart Lancaster says injured Saints prop Alex Corbisiero will be a ‘big miss’ for England when they take on Australia on Saturday.
Corbisiero has been nursing a knee injury picked up in Northampton’s Heineken Cup defeat to Castres on October 11.
He could be fit in time for England’s second November international, against Argentina a week on Saturday, but will definitely miss the Wallabies showdown.
And Lancaster, who is likely to employ Saracens’ Mako Vunipola at loosehead at Twickenham, admits it’s a blow.
““Alex has not got back to on-field running yet, so he’s going to need more time,” Lancaster said.
“He will be a big miss. You saw the quality of his performances (for the Lions against Australia) coming on the back of an Argentina tour.
“He got himself into the Test team and made a significant impact as a starting loosehead.”
Corbisiero’s Saints team-mate Dylan Hartley is also doubtful having suffered an ankle injury in the victory over Ospreys.
Bath’s Rob Webber has been called up as cover, but Lancaster believes Hartley will be fit in time for Saturday.
“Dylan is making good progress and I’m pretty optimistic that he will be available to train fully, definitely by Thursday,” said Lancaster.