England prop Andrew Sheridan will miss the start of the RBS 6 Nations after being ruled out for four months with a dislocated shoulder.
Sheridan will undergo a full reconstruction of his left shoulder on Wednesday after incurring the damage during a collapsed scrum in Sale's Heineken Cup victory over Cardiff Blues on Friday night.
The destructive 29-year-old British & Irish Lions loosehead will play no part in England's autumn internationals against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.
Instead, he must concentrate on returning in time for the third fixture of their RBS 6 Nations campaign against Ireland on February 27.
Sale director of rugby Kingsley Jones said: "Andrew is a great presence around our team and he will be missed.
"It's bad news for Andrew, England and Sale and we just have to come to terms with it."
Should his rehabilitation take as long as predicted, Sheridan will miss the opener against Wales on February 6 and the trip to Italy eight days later.
Given his lack of match practice, England manager Martin Johnson may then have reservations about selecting him for the clash with Ireland at Twickenham.
Sheridan's absence ensures England will enter a challenging autumn without two of their first-choice front rows after fellow Lion Lee Mears sustained a knee ligament injury on Heineken Cup duty for Bath.
Johnson is now missing a host of front line players for the November series, including Toby Flood (knee), Simon Shaw (toe), Delon Armitage (shoulder) and Riki Flutey (shoulder).
Sheridan suffered the injury seven minutes before the end of a 27-26 victory that breathed new life into Sale's Heineken Cup ambitions.
The collapsed scrum resulted in a penalty being awarded against the Blues but Sheridan, who had impressed throughout the game, stayed down and required oxygen.
The shoulder was put back in place but his hopes of participating in England's November fixtures looked bleak and he was ruled out today.
Sheridan has won 32 caps, playing in 21 of England's last 28 Tests. He also made two Test appearances for the Lions during the summer tour to South Africa.
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.