London - England full-back cum wing Ben Foden is set to miss the start of the Six Nations after suffering a knee injury while playing for Premiership side Northampton.
The 28-year-old Foden suffered the setback in the Saints' 18-0 win over Newcastle last month.
And Northampton coach Jim Mallinder said Foden wasn't likely to return until February at the earliest, with the Six Nations starting in the first weekend of that month.
"I think it will be around the 12-week mark that Ben will be out for," Mallinder told the European Rugby Cup website.
"It's very unfortunate for him," added Mallinder. "He's very confident he can get back before then, he's always positive, which is good, so we'll have to see how that goes.
"He's in a positive frame of mind. It could have been worse, it could have been better. Ben is a quick healer but you cannot rush these things."
Foden has fallen down the England pecking order at full-back behind incumbent Mike Brown and Alex Goode.
But his versatility saw him win his 34th Test cap as a wing in England's most recent international -- last month's 30-22 defeat by world champions New Zealand at Twickenham.
He joins an England injury list that includes back-row Tom Croft, centre Manu Tuilagi, Northampton prop Alex Corbisiero and lock Geoff Parling, all of whom are set for lengthy spells on the sidelines.
For Northampton, he will miss several upcoming European Cup group matches including the double-header against Ireland's three-time European champions Leinster and the final home clash with French Top 14 champions Castres.