England are set to be without Charlie Ewels for the 2023 Guinness Six Nations after the lock suffered a serious injury during their summer tour of Australia.
Ewels was unable to play in any of the three Tests against the Wallabies, which ended with the Red Rose recording a 2-1 series win, after injuring his anterior cruciate ligament in the build-up to the first Test in Perth.
After having surgery on his knee, the 27-year-old, who plays his domestic rugby with Bath, could miss the whole of the 2022/23 season as his recovery is expected to take nine to 12 months.
Bath’s new head of rugby Johann van Graan said: “Charlie has been for his operation, which went well, and he will be out for an extended period.
“It was a pretty serious knee injury. He is in good spirits, and he sees it as an opportunity to work on other parts of his game as he goes through the rehab process.
“These type of knee injuries, my experience tells me it is too early to say in terms of length of time.
“Is there a chance [he returns this season]? Potentially, the back end of it, but I wouldn’t want to speculate on it now. It’s way too early.”
Ewels featured in the first four of England’s matches of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations, including starts in the second row against Italy, Wales and Ireland.
However, his involvement against the Irish in Round 4 lasted only 82 seconds as he was sent off for clashing heads with opposite number James Ryan, which was the fastest red card to be shown in the Championship’s history.
To date, Ewels has earned 31 caps for the Red Rose since making his international debut against Fiji in November 2016.
He has scored two tries in the process and he was part of the squad that won the 2020 Guinness Six Nations, which was belatedly finished due to the impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.