London - England's Six Nations preparations suffered a blow on Thursday after flanker Tom Wood - regarded as a candidate for the captaincy - was ruled out of the opening two games through injury.
The Northampton loose forward, who enjoyed a stellar start to his international career during last season's Six Nations, has suffered an injury to his big toe that has forced him to wear a protective boot.
The injury means Wood, 25, will miss England's opening games away to Scotland and Italy when the tournament kicks off next month.
"Following a specialist consultation yesterday, Tom Wood will wear a protective boot on his left foot for four weeks to allow an injury to his big toe to recover," an RFU statement said.
"The Northampton Saints and England medics will in the meantime work to treat Tom and to monitor his recovery."
Wood, the 2011 Premiership Player of the Year, will attend next week's England training camp in Leeds, the statement added.