The withdrawal of Owen Farrell means England coach Stuart Lancaster will have to make at least one enforced change for Saturday night's third test with the All Blacks in Hamilton.
English management tonight confirmed Farrell, who started at first five-eighth in the second test in Dunedin, had suffered a knee injury and wouldn't be considered for the fixture at Waikato Stadium.
"The knee has been scanned and there is a strain there,'' Lancaster said.
"It's disappointing for Owen as he was desperate to play in the final test but such is his character that he is already working on his rehab and still contributing to the tour. Fortunately we have three other fly halves to call on and we'll make that selection call over the next few days.''
Farrell, the son of England assistant coach and ex-rugby league legend Andy Farrell, wasn't considered for the first test at Eden Park because he had earlier been involved in the English club final with Saracens.
He replaced Freddie Burns for the Dunedin test and was solid without being spectacular. While Farrell is recognised as a tough defender, his vision and option-taking still requires some polish - something that was obvious when England began to stray from their game-plan in the 28-27 defeat at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Burns, who produced a solid effort in the 20-15 defeat in Auckland in the opening test, is now ranked as the favourite to replace Farrell.
Danny Cipriani, who was listed to start at No 10 against the Crusaders tonight, is another option but isn't expected to be preferred ahead of Burns.
The flamboyant playmaker, who spent time at the Melbourne Rebels in 2012, has not started a test for England since 2008.
He was re-called for this tour of New Zealand and made an immediate impression when he replaced Burns late in the first test by speeding through a gap and kicking a penalty.
Farrell will remain with the squad before returning home for further assessment and treatment by Saracens in conjunction with the England medical team.