London - England suffered a major setback ahead of their November Test campaign on Sunday when lock Joe Launchbury was ruled out of all four internationals at Twickenham with a neck injury.
The 23-year-old Wasps second row, who has started England's last 20 Tests, has an irritation to a nerve in his neck that requires between six to eight weeks of rest and rehabilitation.
Uncapped Leicester lock Graham Kitchener was added to England's squad ahead of the 2015 World Cup hosts' Twickenham opener against New Zealand on Saturday.
"It’s obviously disappointing but it’s important for Joe, England and Wasps that he has the appropriate rest and recovery period and we are confident that he will be back in the New Year," said England coach Stuart Lancaster.
Launchbury's injury means his impressive second row partnership with Courtney Lawes will have to be put on hold for the time being and sees him join fellow-lock Geoff Parling (concussion) in missing the November Test campaign at Twickenham, the venue for next year's World Cup final.
Lancaster could now pair either Dave Attwood or George Kruis alongside Lawes at lock, or bring in-form flanker Calum Clark into the second row.
England have one of the largest playing bases in world rugby and their squad strength will certainly be tested this month given that Manu Tuilagi, Tom Croft, Ed Slater, Dan Cole, Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola and Alex Corbisiero are also in line to miss the whole of the November campaign.
Meanwhile, Northampton centre Luther Burrell's hand injury has ruled him out of the match against the world champion All Blacks but he could return for England's remaining fixtures this month at home to South Africa, Samoa and Australia.
"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.
Both England and New Zealand are due to name their sides for next weekend's match on Thursday.