Hammer blow for England with Elliot Daly ruled out of Six Nations through injury

England’s preparations for the Six Nations have suffered another hammer blow after Elliot Daly was ruled out of the entire tournament because of a hamstring injury.

Daly was expected to make his first appearance since last year’s Championship having fallen out of favour under Eddie Jones, but his club Saracens have revealed he will need 12 weeks of rehabilitation.

The versatile back sustained the injury in Saracens’ Heineken Champions Cup defeat by Edinburgh last Sunday and must now target the summer’s World Cup warm-up games to add to his 57 caps.

Daly was set to challenge for a place in England’s back three where he can cover wing and full-back, while also providing an option at outside centre.

The sacking of Jones last month and subsequent appointment of Steve Borthwick as head coach saw Daly recalled to the Six Nations squad as reward for an explosive start to the 2022-23 campaign.

England are boosted by the return of wings Henry Arundell and Anthony Watson from injury this weekend – the duo in action for London Irish and Leicester respectively – but playing resources have been depleted up-front.

An injury crisis has claimed hookers Luke Cowan-Dickie and George McGuigan, while Jamie George is a doubt because of concussion to threaten his involvement in the opener against Scotland on February 4.

Courtney Lawes is also struggling with a calf problem suffered on Northampton duty last weekend, damaging his Calcutta Cup prospects, while flanker Tom Curry is not expected to return from hamstring damage until later in the Six Nations.