England's rapidly depleting rugby stocks have taken another hit ahead of their tour of New Zealand with outstanding fullback Mike Brown doubtful to face the All Blacks.
Brown faces an anxious wait to see if he will make the plane after injuring a leg as his Harlequins side exited the English premiership playoffs at the weekend.
Brown caught his studs awkwardly in the artificial turf at Allianz Park just as he was tackled in a match against Saracens, damaging his groin and hamstring, the Times reported.
Brown has been the form player for England over the past eight months.
He was their man of the series in last November's home tests against southern-hemisphere sides. He was named the Six Nations player of the tournament and last week was named the Premierships player of the season.
Brown is desperate to tour New Zealand after his only previous trip in 2008 ended in embarrassment after he was fined by the RFU for staying out all night after a game.
He's equally desperate to take on All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg.
"I am in a much better place now," he said.
"I have grown as a person and a player since then. It is a very different mindset.
"I can't really place myself in Dagg's bracket because he has been the best in the world for a few years. It would be good to go down and test myself against the best."
Brown has three weeks to regain fitness, and if he fails, Mathew Tait is the only alternative available with any international experience.
England coach Stuart Lancaster has already named a preliminary squad devoid of most of his stars. Now he knows who will be unavailable for the opening test against the All Blacks at Eden Park on June 1 - a game that comes too soon for those involved in the English club final played at Twickenham on May 31.
The Northampton-Saracens final on May 31 has cost him the services of Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Luther Burrell, Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell, while there are also injury concerns over Billy Twelvetrees.
The Times reported that Lancaster's biggest headache comes at hooker. Hartley is unavailable, Tom Youngs is staying home on compassionate leave, David Paice is injured, Rob Webber is doubtful and Jamie George is also in Premiership finals action. Lancaster will have to field two uncapped players against the All Blacks in Auckland.
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