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England forward Geoff Parling is a doubt for the start of the Six Nations after being ruled out for three months following shoulder surgery.
Parling suffered the injury playing for England in their 30-22 defeat by New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday and now faces a race against time to be fit for their Six Nations opener against France in Paris on February 1.
Parling lost his place in the side for the November internationals as Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes looked to establish a new second-row partnership.
However, the 30-year-old lock has become a key member of Stuart Lancaster’s squad following the 2011 World Cup, but his absence will also be keenly felt by his club side.
Leicester Tigers have four more Heineken Cup pool ties between now and Parling’s scheduled return with back-to-back home and away meetings with French club Montpellier in early December.
The Welford Road club also face two huge Aviva Premiership clashes either side of Christmas with a trip to leaders Saracens on December 21 and a visit from resurgent Bath in the new year.
Leicester’s director of rugby Richard Cockerill admitted the loss of Parling, a key lineout organiser for club and country, was a big blow.
“The prognosis is that he is likely to be out for three months which is obviously very disappointing for Geoff and also for us with all the other injuries we’ve had this season,” Cockerill told the club’s official website.
“But we will have to deal with it and we’ve got some good cover in the squad. We want Geoff to have a trouble-free recovery and to get himself right so he can rejoin the squad later in the season.”