Ben Foden will miss England's QBE autumn internationals after it was confirmed he requires surgery on damaged ankle ligaments.
The Northampton full-back suffered the injury playing against Bath last Friday night and he is expected to be sidelined for between 10 and 12 weeks.
Mike Brown and Alex Goode both started Tests at full-back on the summer tour of South Africa and will be the leading contenders for the 15 jersey.
England open their autumn campaign against Fiji before tackling Australia, South Africa and New Zealand on consecutive Saturdays at Twickenham.
Foden has become an integral member of the England set-up since making his international debut in 2009, appearing in 27 of the last 28 Test matches.
"It is unfortunate for Ben who has had a good run in the side and is a valuable leader," head coach Stuart Lancaster said.
"But we have a number of back three players who are playing well and this offers a chance for them."
Two of Foden's last three appearances came on the wing in South Africa as Lancaster looked to counter the Springboks' kicking game with two specialist full-backs.
Brown started the first Test defeat before being ruled out of the tour with a broken hand, opening the way for Goode to make his full debut in the drawn third Test in Port Elizabeth.
If Foden is sidelined for 12 weeks, he could also miss the first four of Northampton's Heineken Cup group matches against Glasgow, Castres and the back-to-back fixtures with Ulster.