England scrum-half Luke Gale has been ruled out of the autumn internationals through injury.
The Castleford half-back, who missed the mid-season Test against New Zealand with a dislocated patella, is thought to have sustained the latest injury to his knee in the Tigers’ play-off semi-final defeat by Wigan last Friday.
It leaves head coach Wayne Bennett without his three half-backs from the 2017 World Cup, with Gareth Widdop, of St George Illawarra, also out with a shoulder injury and Warrington’s Kevin Brown having retired from the international game.
Gale, the 2017 Man of Steel, was out for almost four months with his fractured kneecap but returned to action in August and was last week named in Bennett’s 24-man squad for the international against France at Leigh on October 17 and the three-match series with the Kiwis.
England were already without Kallum Watkins, Ryan Hall, Ben Currie, Alex Walmsley and James Roby from the World Cup while Sam Burgess pulled out last week to have shoulder and wrist surgery.
England are set to announce Burgess’ replacement on Tuesday.