England have been hit by an injury blow ahead of the Six Nations after Luke Cowan-Dickie’s hopes of playing any part in the tournament were shattered on Wednesday.
Cowan-Dickie suffered an ankle injury playing for Exeter against Northampton on January 7.
The 29-year-old hooker was initially ruled out for an unspecified period of time, raising hopes he could return at some point during the Six Nations.
But Exeter boss Rob Baxter has now confirmed he will not return to action before the end of the tournament.
“The length of Luke’s injury means he should be back before the end of the season. The challenge will be whether it’s one or two weeks before the end of the season,” Baxter said.
“It’s not going to be a big chunk of the season that he gets back available for.”
Cowan-Dickie’s absence further weakens England’s resources at hooker after Jamie George’s concussion and a knee problem incurred by George McGuigan.
Unless George recovers in time for England’s Six Nations opener against Scotland on February 4, the uncapped Jack Walker is likely to start in the number two jersey, with Tom Dunn providing bench cover.
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