England's troubled tour of South Africa is in danger of descending into complete disarray after four players were ruled out of Saturday's second Test against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld.
Andy Farrell, James Simpson-Daniel and Mike Brown are all unavailable due to the stomach virus that has affected England virtually since they arrived in South Africa two weeks ago.
Flanker Andy Hazell, meanwhile, misses out because of a knee problem suffered during the record 58-10 first Test defeat last weekend.
Skipper Jason Robinson is battling to overcome fluid on the knee, and England head coach Brian Ashton will not announce his starting line-up until Friday lunchtime - barely 24 hours before kick-off - at the earliest.
Such is England's state of strife that uncapped Bath full-back Nick Abendanon will fly out from London and could effectively go straight into the match-day 22.
It is impossible not to feel sympathy for Ashton, whose plans have been disrupted at almost every turn.
Farrell would now appear to be running out of time to press powerful World Cup claims, having also missed the first Test due to the virus.
The virus has also claimed Harlequins' wing David Strettle, who flew home on Wednesday, joining injured Gloucester pair Iain Balshaw and Nick Wood in making an early exit.
The majority of England's problems are behind the scrum, where Ashton could be forced, for instance, into switching Newcastle centre Mathew Tait to wing, so limited are back-three resources.
Ashton revealed that Farrell, Simpson-Daniel and Brown are currently too ill to travel home.
Ashton said: "We have talked about all the different scenarios. They tell me it is part and parcel of being on tour.
"We thought that Mike Brown and James Simpson-Daniel had recovered yesterday, but that is not the case.
"I don't really know what to say. It doesn't seem this bug will leave the camp.
"But I am not making any excuses before the game - I am just reporting the facts."
Asked about the prospect of Abendanon making his debut at such short notice, Ashton added: "It is probably the best way to do it, he won't have enough time to think about it."
England are likely to face the Springboks with changes in the forwards, where prop Matt Stevens and lock Roy Winters are expected to feature in the starting line-up.
England flanker James Haskell insists he will be pushing as hard as possible to be back from a toe injury in time to make his case for a spot in Eddie Jones' side looking to defend their RBS 6 Nations title next year.