The November slate just got that bit tougher for Saracens after the club confirmed Billy Vunipola suffered knee ligament damage during Sunday's 29-22 victory over Harlequins.
The 61-cap England international was taken off in the closing minutes of a nail-biting win at The Stoop, where Jackson Wray's late try completed a courageous comeback by Mark McCall's men.
Vunipola—who turns 29 on Wednesday—was omitted from Eddie Jones ' squad for the upcoming autumn internationals, as was older brother Mako.
Unlikely as it may have been that the former Red Rose regular would be recalled, his injury rules out any chance of a last-gasp call back into the selection.
"Billy Vunipola received a positive scan result following a knee injury sustained against Harlequins on Sunday," a club statement read.
"He suffered a minor ligament injury, however it is expected that he will return to action in late November."
England will host Tonga at Twickenham in the first of their November fixtures on Saturday, with Australia (Nov. 13) and South Africa due to visit later in the month.
Vunipola will miss Saturday's Premiership fixture at home to London Irish, but McCall's side then have a three-week break before they're back in league action.
Do you think Billy Vunipola should be in England's autumn squad or not? Let us know in the comments section.
Saracens are scheduled to host Sale Sharks on November 28, by which time the back-row talisman may be fit enough to return and will have only missed one fixture.
Victory over the Premiership titleholders moved Sarries back up to second in the standings, while Leicester Tigers sit eight points clear—albeit having played one game more.
Steve Borthwick's leaders are responsible for Saracens' only defeat of the campaign thus far, but Leicester are set to be missing a large contingent of international stars this coming weekend.
Wray, Janco Venter or Ben Earl will be among the frontrunners to replace Vunipola at No. 8 against London Irish this weekend, with the Exiles only recently picking up their first win of the season.
Even without the services of one of their usual stars, Saracens will feel confident in their ability to secure a sixth win in seven games this term when they host director Declan Kidney's men.
Saracens sit second to Leicester in the standings at present, but McCall's side have scored more points than any other Premiership team so far this season while also conceding the fewest.
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