England and Leicester flanker Tom Croft suffers cruciate knee ligament damage
England and Leicester flanker Tom Croft is set to miss the entire season with a knee injury.
Last Updated: 12/09/13 9:13am
The 27-year-old, who started the first Test for the British & Irish Lions against Australia this summer, suffered cruciate knee ligament damage during Leicester's win over Worcester at the weekend.
He has been forced to have reconstructive surgery and will miss England's autumn international schedule along with their Six Nations campaign.
The British & Irish Lion is also unlikely to return in time for the culmination of the domestic and European seasons, when Leicester will hope to be involved in the latter stages of the Heineken Cup and pushing to retain their Aviva Premiership crown.
The injury is another huge setback for Croft, who broke his neck playing against Harlequins in April 2012 before returning in January.
Richard Cockerill told the Daily Mail: "Tom had a bang on the knee at the weekend.
"We felt it was relatively innocuous but after further investigation the ACL (anterior cruciate) ligament was ruptured and he has had surgery to reconstruct it and that's his season finished.
"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 but 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."
Croft suffered a career-threatening neck injury in April last year, but he returned to action eight months later and forced himself back into England
contention, starting the final game of last season's Six Nations Chammpionship against Wales.
His form was then sufficient to warrant a place on the Lions tour to Australia, where he started the first Test in Brisbane and went on as a replacement during the second Test.
Croft's long absence will be a huge blow to England head coach Stuart Lancaster, who would have viewed him as an integral part of his plans, both for the November internationals and the Six Nations.
In addition to his neck problem, Croft has twice previously fought back from knee injuries during a career of extreme highs and lows.