Bath prop Matt Stevens looks set to miss England’s autumn Test matches after undergoing further shoulder surgery.
The 23-year-old had an operation in London yesterday to repair his rotator cuff tendon.
Stevens went under the knife after a slower than anticipated recovery from surgery earlier this year.
He has not played for his country since the England’s RBS 6 Nations Championship defeat against France last March.
Stevens, capped 10 times, faces a six-week recuperation period before beginning his rehabilitation programme.
He will be monitored by Bath and England medical teams, but he looks like missing November appointments with New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa (twice) at Twickenham.
Stevens’ latest injury setback will be a huge blow to England head coach Andy Robinson.
Robinson, under pressure following a dismal run of results in 2006, views Stevens as an integral part of his World Cup plans in France next year.
The South Africa-born forward has already shown during his fledgling Test career that he possesses the ability to enjoy a long international career, but injuries have stalled his progress.