England and Leicester Tigers have suffered a major blow as Tom Croft has been ruled out for the rest of the rugby season due to a knee injury.
Croft was injured in the final minutes of Leicester's Aviva Premiership's season opening victory over Worcester Warriors on Sunday.
The England and Lions flanker did not realise the extent of the injury at first but according to reports underwent surgery to repair ligament damage on Tuesday morning.
Leicester Tigers Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill said 38 cap Croft had ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament.
"It's horrendous bad luck for Tom because it is only last year that he came back from a very bad neck injury and did so well for England, but the Lions as well," Cockerill said.
"But these things happen. Tom will make a full recovery, but it's his season over. It is a blow, but we have just got to get on with things."
Twenty-seven-year-old Croft suffered a career-threatening neck injury in April last year, but he returned to action some eight months later and started England's final game of last season's Six Nations against Wales.
His form then saw Croft earn a place on the Lions tour of Australia, where he started the first Test in Brisbane and came on as a replacement in the second of a three-match series the combined side eventually won 2-1.
As well as his neck problems, Croft's career had twice been interrupted by knee injuries.