Leicester have confirmed that England fly-half Toby Flood is expected to miss the start of the RBS 6 Nations championship with a knee injury.
Flood, 26, suffered ligament damage against Sale last weekend and he is set to be sidelined for four to six weeks, which also rules him out of the Tigers' do-or-die Heineken Cup clash with Ulster.
England are already resigned to opening the defence of their Six Nations title against Scotland on February 4 without Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi.
Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury: "He (Flood) hurt his knee on Sunday and we initially thought it was just like a dead leg but it swelled up overnight and he went to see a specialist to determine the exact nature of the injury.
"It turns out that he has tweaked his ligaments and is likely to be out for four to six weeks, which is not as bad as we feared at one stage.
"But it still rules him out of the Wasps and Ulster games, which is not great after Manu Tuilagi and Louis Deacon's recent injuries."
Flood and Tuilagi, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, will both still be named in Stuart Lancaster's elite player squad on January 11.
Deacon could miss the whole Six Nations with a hamstring problem of his own, although he may not have been in Lancaster's original plans anyway.
Flood's absence for the start of the Six Nations would open the way for Charlie Hodgson's return at fly-half - potentially with one or both of his Saracens team-mates Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell in the centres.
Sale prop Andrew Sheridan will not be rushed back to international duty after undergoing a shoulder operation during the World Cup.