England No 8 Billy Vunipola faces a race against time to be fit for the start of the Six Nations after undergoing knee surgery.
Vunipola has been ruled out for 16 weeks with the cartilage damage sustained in Saracens’ 41-13 Aviva Premiership victory over Sale at Allianz Park on Saturday and will miss the autumn series against Argentina, Australia and Samoa.
“For any team to lose a player of the ability of Billy is a blow and he will be missed through the autumn for both Saracens and England,” said Sarries director of rugby Mark McCall said.
“It’s desperately disappointing for him, considering how hard he has worked during the offseason to get back to full fitness, but Billy is a resilient character and he’ll have a strong support network around him to get him back on the field in the best possible shape.
“What’s now important for Billy is his recovery and we look forward to his return later this season.”