England have been dealt another savage injury blow with the news that Joe Launchbury will miss the entire QBE series of autumn internationals with a neck problem.
Launchbury is suffering from nerve irritation that requires six to eight weeks of rest and rehabilitation, ruling him out of the Tests against New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia.
"It's disappointing but it's important for Joe, England and Wasps that he has the appropriate recovery period. We are confident he'll be back in the new year," head coach Stuart Lancaster said.
Launchbury's place in the extended squad preparing for Saturday's autumn opener at Twickenham has been taken by the uncapped Graham Kitchener of Leicester.
With Geoff Parling out until December because of concussion, Courtney Lawes and Dave Attwood are likely to form the second row against the All Blacks, with George Kruis offering cover from the bench.
Another option available to Lancaster is to play in-form flanker Calum Clark at lock.
Losing Launchbury is a major setback as the 23-year-old has become a key member of England's pack, starting their last 20 Tests and forging an outstanding second row combination with Lawes.
England's playing resources have been sorely depleted by injury with Parling, Alex Corbisiero, Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Ed Slater, Tom Croft and Manu Tuilagi already ruled out of the entire autumn.
Lancaster confirmed that centre Luther Burrell would be unavailable against New Zealand because of his hand injury, but he could return for the remaining fixtures.
Burrell will continue to receive treatment at Northampton alongside fly-half Stephen Myler, who has a mild hamstring strain.
"Luther has seen the specialist and the news is positive. He could be available later in the series and we'll look to bring him into camp further down the line," Lancaster said.
London Irish hooker David Paice has been added to the squad for the start of the week as cover for Dylan Hartley and Rob Webber.
England name their team to face the world champion All Blacks on Thursday.