Rugby-Flood set to miss early Six Nations games

LONDON Fri Jan 6, 2012 11:54am GMT

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LONDON Jan 6 (Reuters) - England flyhalf Toby Flood looks certain to miss the first two games of the Six Nations championship after suffering a knee injury, his club Leicester said on Friday.

Flood would have been a certain starter for England following the international retirement of Jonny Wilkinson but has been ruled out for up to six weeks after straining a ligament in last weekend's Premiership victory over Sale.

England begin the defence of their title away to Scotland on Feb. 4 and then visit Italy a week later.

"He hurt his knee on Sunday and we initially thought it was just like a dead leg but it swelled up overnight and he went to see a specialist to determine the exact nature of the injury," Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury.

"It turns out that he has tweaked his ligaments and is likely to be out for four to six weeks."

Flood joins fellow Leicester and England team mates Manu Tuilagi and Louis Deacon on the sidelines. Centre Tuilagi is also set to miss England's opening two matches while lock Deacon will probably miss the entire tournament after both suffered hamstring injuries last week.

Flood's absence is likely to open the door for 31-year-old Charlie Hodgson to make his first Six Nations start for six years and also increases the chances of Owen Farrell, his 20-year-old Saracens team mate and son of England assistant coach Andy, to get his first taste of international action.

England's caretaker coach Stuart Lancaster will name his elite player squad next week. (Editing by; to query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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