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Launchbury blow for England

England second row Joe Launchbury is set to miss the RBS 6 Nations campaign after Wasps announced he will face up to four months out of action following neck surgery.

Launchbury was ruled out of last month's autumn series at Twickenham because of a recurring nerve problem in his neck and at the time was told he would need six to eight weeks of rest to recover.

However after consultations with specialists t he 23-year-old will undergo surgery on Friday before beginning a longer rehabilitation process.

Wasps announced in a statement on Thursday: " The club today confirmed that second row Joe Launchbury will undergo surgery to decompress a nerve in his neck.

"Launchbury hasn't played since the beginning of November due to a bulging disc. He will undergo a routine decompression of the nerve this Friday and is expected to be out of hospital on Saturday. A rehabilitation period of approximately three to four months is anticipated."

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said: "As you would expect, this is a frustrating time for Joe, but the most important thing in all of this isn't rugby, it's Joe's long-term health. We have consulted specialists in this field and they have recommended surgery as the best option to get him back to full fitness for the long term.

"Joe is in good hands, being looked after by one of the world's leading surgeons and he will have the full support of the Wasps and England medical teams during his rehabilitation period."

Launchbury will miss crucial playing time with England before the World Cup, at which Stuart Lancaster's team are the hosts next autumn.

The 6ft 6in lock had become a key figure in Lancaster's XV, starting every game during last season's Six Nations championship and the three summer Tests against New Zealand in a run of 19 consecutive starting appearances, on his way to reaching a current haul of 22 caps.

In Launchbury's absence, Dave Attwood stepped into the second row alongside Courtney Lawes for the autumn series, and the Bath forward will have a chance to press claims for a World Cup starting role when England head into Six Nations battle. Leicester's Graham Kitchener provides another option for head coach Lancaster.

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