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Wade injury adds to England's woes for Six Nations

England's injury problems continued to mount after wing Christian Wade was ruled out for up to six months with damaged foot ligaments.

Wade will undergo surgery after being hurt in Wasps' 19-12 Aviva Premiership victory over London Irish on Saturday and will miss the entire RBS 6 Nations.

"It's devastating news for both the player and the club," Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said.

Wade was due to win his second cap in last month's QBE Internationals, only for a hamstring injury to prevent him from starting against Argentina and New Zealand.

Stuart Lancaster, the head coach, was keen to give the British and Irish Lion a more prominent role amid the ongoing deterioration of Chris Ashton's form and he was set to start the Six Nations opener against France on February 1.

But, unless he heals quicker than expected, he will not play again for Wasps this season and his participation in the summer tour to New Zealand is in grave doubt.

"Christian was hugely unlucky to miss out on being capped this autumn and he had hoped to push on and put in some good performances for Wasps to get him in contention for Six Nations selection," Young said.

"It is a huge blow for him but he is a young player with a huge future and his time will come around again."

England's options out wide are depleting rapidly with Marland Yarde and Ben Foden set to miss the Six Nations with respective hip and knee injuries.

Wade's absence is likely to result in a Test reprieve for Ashton despite struggling throughout the autumn, while Charlie Sharples, David Strettle, Jonny May and Ugo Monye are in contention for promotion from the Saxons.

The depth of England's squad will be tested in the Six Nations as they contend with a disturbing succession of injuries. Flanker Tom Croft and prop Alex Corbisiero have been ruled out altogether, while centre Manu Tuilagi and lock Geoff Parling are unlikely to be involved.

Centre Joel Tomkins is another three-month casualty due to a knee injury, but his poor performances against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand last month put his participation in serious doubt.

Brad Barritt should be back from foot surgery by Christmas to reinforce the midfield.

Meanwhile, England have announced that next summer's Test series against New Zealand will be played in Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton. The series opens at Eden Park on June 7, continues at Forsyth Barr Stadium seven days later and concludes at Waikato Stadium on June 21.

"This is our final tour before the World Cup and is massively important for us to benchmark ourselves against the No.1 team in the world," said Lancaster.

n Racing Metro have signed the Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips on a 2½-year deal. Phillips had been without a club since having his contract with Bayonne terminated in October for allegedly turning up drunk to a video analysis session. But Racing revealed they had approached the 31-year-old over a future move before the alleged events that led to his early exit from Bayonne took place. Phillips was sacked by Bayonne after he was accused of being intoxicated when the squad met on October 11, the morning after Grenoble had been defeated 37-6 in the Amlin Challenge Cup.

At Paris-based Racing, Phillips will link up fellow Lions Jonathan Sexton, Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate.

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