Cipriani facing six months out

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Rising England star Danny Cipriani appears unlikely to wear the national shirt until next year's RBS 6 Nations after Wasps confirmed he was set for six months on the sidelines with an ankle injury.

The 20-year-old underwent surgery last night on a fracture dislocation of his right ankle, suffered during his side's Guinness Premiership play-off victory over Bath yesterday afternoon.

Cipriani - admitted with team-mate Tom Voyce, who suffered a dislocated shoulder in the same match - will remain under observation in London's Lister Hospital for the next couple of days.

Cipriani, who put in a man-of-the-match display on his full England debut against Ireland in his country's final game of this year's Six Nations, will begin an intensive period of rehabilitation as soon as possible.

Wasps' initial prognosis is that Cipriani will take around six months to regain full fitness, although the likely duration of his absence will remain under regular review by the medical staff of the London club.

What is certain is that England's brightest prospect will miss the forthcoming tour of New Zealand, and is a major doubt for the home autumn internationals against Australia, South Africa and the All Blacks - which begin with a clash against the Wallabies at Twickenham on November 15.

Wasps' head physiotherapist Prav Mathema said: "On behalf of London Wasps, Danny and Tom, I would like to thank everyone who was involved in managing the treatment of those two players yesterday.

"London Wasps' own medical team, Bath's medical team, the paramedics, consultants and the Lister Hospital staff were exemplary in their medical care of these two players."

The injury, which happened as new England team manager Martin Johnson watched on at Adams Park yesterday, occurred when the youngster's right leg was trapped beneath him during a tackle by Bath counterpart Olly Barkley in the Londoners' 21-10 victory.

It is a similar injury to that suffered by Wasps skipper Lawrence Dallaglio during the British Lions' tour of New Zealand three years ago.

On that occasion, the former England number eight was out for around six months before making a full recovery.

"It's unfortunate when any player gets injured, especially one with such a bright future. But he'll be back I'm sure, hopefully soon, and we wish him all the best," Dallaglio told BBC Sport after yesterday's match.

"You can rest assured he's got the right team around him at Wasps. We've been through these types of injuries before, not least to myself, so I'm sure he'll be back strong."

The certain absence of Cipriani when Rob Andrew leads England on their two-Test tour of New Zealand creates a major selection problem.

Johnson - who will stay with his pregnant wife rather than go on the tour - said: "On behalf of the England summer tour squad we all feel for Danny over the injury he suffered on Sunday.

"The England medical team will be in regular contact with London Wasps over the next few months regarding his rehabilitation and we all wish Danny a speedy recovery.

"I will discuss with Rob Andrew and the coaches the candidates to replace Danny on the summer tour and we will make an announcement tomorrow."

With Jonny Wilkinson also missing out as he recovers from shoulder surgery, England will be badly weakened at number 10 when they face the mighty All Blacks in Auckland, on June 14, and Christchurch seven days later.

Charlie Hodgson was the second fly-half named in the initial 32-man party, with both Barkley and Toby Flood, ostensibly selected as inside centres, capable of stepping in if required.

Johnson must now decide whether to bring in another specialist fly-half, with Gloucester's Ryan Lamb, named by the Saxons for their Churchill Cup campaign, first in line should he choose to do so.