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Leicester and England have been hit by the news flanker Tom Croft will miss the entire season after sustaining a knee ligament injury.
The 27-year-old damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in Saturday’s Premiership opener against Worcester and underwent surgery on Tuesday.
Croft will now miss England’s Six Nations campaign and has also been ruled out of the domestic season with the Tigers.
The injury is especially cruel as Croft missed much of last season with a serious neck injury and is now facing an even longer spell on the sidelines.
Croft returned to action in January to help Leicester to the Premiership title before he starred for the British and Irish Lions on their victorious tour of Australia.
“We felt it was relatively innocuous but the ACL was ruptured,” said Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill.
“It’s horrendous bad luck for Tom because it is only last year that he came back from a very bad neck injury and did so well for England and the Lions as well.
“But these things happen. Tom will make a full recovery but it’s his season over. It’s a blow but we have just got to get on with things.”