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Flood to miss start of Six Nations, says Leicester

Updated: January 06, 2012, 09:15


LONDON(AP) England flyhalf Toby Flood is set to miss the start of the Six Nations because of a knee injury, leaving the holders short of a world-class No. 10 following the recent retirement from international rugby of Jonny Wilkinson.

Flood is likely to be unavailable for England's first two matches, against Scotland and Italy, after damaging knee ligaments in Leicester's win over Sale in the English Premiership last weekend.

"It turns out that he has tweaked his ligaments and is likely to be out for four to six weeks,'' Leicester Tigers coach Richard Cockerill told local newspaper the Leicester Mercury.

England opens the defense of the title with a trip to Scotland on Feb. 4, before playing Italy away the following weekend.

Interim England coach Stuart Lancaster was likely to fall back on either Charlie Hodgson or Owen Farrell to fill the void.

The uncapped Farrell rose to prominence in a breakthrough year at club level last season, guiding Saracens to the English title with some unforgiving placekicking and a sturdy defense that he attributed to watching tapes of Wilkinson in his prime.

The 31-year-old Hodgson would be the more experienced option but has previously come up short in his 36 caps at international level, with his defense questioned and his kicking often inconsistent. He is, however, the most creative No. 10 in England.

Lancaster is also set to be without center Manu Tuilagi (hamstring) for the first two games while another Leicester and England player, lock Louis Deacon, is likely to miss the whole tournament with a hamstring problem.

Scrumhalf Danny Care was ruled out of Six Nations contention by Lancaster this week after being arrested twice in the past three weeks for alcohol-related offenses.

The England squad will be named on Wednesday.

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