London - England's preparations for their November Test series were dealt another blow on Thursday when Exeter announced that backrow forward Tom Johnson would miss the matches through injury.
Johnson, who has won eight caps, is due to undergo surgery on a neck problem on Tuesday and is expected to be sidelined for between 10 and 12 weeks.
The 32-year-old joins a growing England injury list that also includes Alex Corbisiero (shoulder), Mako Vunipola (knee), Dan Cole (neck), Tom Youngs (shoulder) and Geoff Parling (concussion).
"It is one of those awkward ones where there's a balance between waiting to see if rehab sorts it out, or operate and try to get some immediate results," said Exeter head coach Rob Baxter.
"Having spoken to the surgeon, and then the surgeon having some debates with our medical staff, because it's a relatively straightforward one about trimming a bit of bone to free up a nerve, the consensus has been to get the operation done and give Tom the best chance to be good long-term.
"So we will do it now rather than wait and see."
England begin their end-of-year programme against world champions New Zealand at Twickenham on November 8 before tackling South Africa, Samoa and Australia in the following weeks.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster is scheduled to name his next squad in three weeks' time.