London - England centre Manu Tuilagi could miss the Six Nations opener against Wales next month as he continues his recovery from a groin injury, his Leicester Tigers club boss said on Sunday.
The powerful 23-year-old, widely regarded as key to England's hopes in the annual European tournament and September's home World Cup, has not played since last October.
"It may well come too soon, we'll see," Leiceister's Richard Cockerill told reporters when asked about the February 6 date in Cardiff.
"It's a day-by-day, week-by-week thing. Manu is so important to club and country."
Speaking after Leicester's 17-8 Premiership victory over Bath, Cockerill added: "By the end of this month, Manu will be playing. He is progressing really well and we want to get him right. He will be fit for the Six Nations at some point.
"The World Cup is huge and you don't need your best players breaking down, Stuart Lancaster needs a fully-fit squad going into the World Cup, you don't want to be risking guys. We'll be patient."