England have been dealt another major injury setback with the loss of World Cup winner Phil Vickery from their autumn Tests with Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.
Vickery's club London Wasps say the prop faces a rehabilitation period "in excess of three months" following a pending neck operation.
It will sideline him from England's Twickenham appointments next month, and must put in serious doubt any participation in this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.
Vickery's injury comes less than 24 hours after his fellow prop Andrew Sheridan was sidelined for up to four months following a shoulder dislocation.
In a statement, Wasps said: "Due to an exacerbation of neck pain suffered during the Wasps versus Racing-Metro game at Adams Park (on October 11), Phil Vickery has been closely monitored over the last week by the club's medical team.
"It was deemed necessary that Phil should be reviewed further by a consultant neurosurgeon.
"Subsequently a collective decision by Phil, the consultant, Wasps' medical team and England has been made this week to progress with surgery to his neck.
"This will entail a rehab period in excess of three months."
Vickery, World Cup captain in France two years ago, made a successful recovery from neck and back injuries earlier in his career.
But the 33-year-old, who has won 73 England caps and made five Test match appearances for the British & Irish Lions, now faces another long road back to fitness.
After Ireland's heroic big-game hunt of the Springboks and Scotland's six-try runaround of the Pumas, the challenge of engineering the most spectacular win of the autumn series now falls on Wales, writes Peter Jackson.