England have been dealt with a huge blow that Captain Lewis Moody has been ruled out for up to six weeks after suffering a knee ligament injury.
Moody received the injury against Aironi in Bath’s 55-16 Heineken Cup win on Sunday when he looked to have twisted his knee during a lineout drive.
Bath coach Steve Meehan thought the problem was not serious, but after subsequent tests the club have now confirmed an injury to Moody's medial collateral ligament.
The former Leicester flanker could miss England's opening three RBS 6 Nations games against Wales, Italy and France.
Moody has won 66 England caps and led England to their historic victory over Australia in last year's autumn internationals.
England coach Martin Johnson said: "It is always disappointing to lose a player and leader of Lewis' calibre but as I have consistently said, good teams adapt to injuries and that is what we intend to do.
"While this could still mean Lewis plays a role in the Six Nations, it does mean that another player gets the chance to step up and make it hard for him to get the shirt back."