England centre Manu Tuilagi has been ruled out for six months with a torn Achilles tendon, says Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond.
The 29-year-old was hurt 12 minutes into Sale's Premiership game at Northampton on Tuesday.
He will miss England's remaining 2020 Six Nations game with Italy and possibly the entire 2021 tournament.
Tuilagi will also be unavailable for the Autumn Nations Cup, which starts this November.
The former Leicester Tigers back, who moved to AJ Bell Stadium during the summer, will have surgery on the injury next week.
He has played seven games for his new employers, scoring his only try against his former side on his return to Welford Road early last month.
"Manu will be a loss to England and Sale," said Diamond. "He'll be out for six months. It's brutal what we're playing at the minute.
"Dan Biggar fell on him, so it was an accident. These things happen. I think it might have been a jinx, me saying before the game that we've got nine out of nine games out of him and boom, that happens. So I'll keep my trap shut in future.
"Rather selfishly, after this game and the play-offs we probably wouldn't have seen Manu until April with the England commitments and EPS rest periods."
More injury woe for Tuilagi
This is the latest blow to a career dogged by serious injury over the past decade.
Tuilagi burst on to the scene as a teenager and was included in England's squad for the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
He has gone on to win 43 caps and score 18 tries for his country, including one in the World Cup semi-final win over New Zealand last year, and played one Test for the British and Irish Lions against Australia on the 2013 tour.
However, he has also had to endure long spells on the sidelines.
In September 2013, a torn pectoral muscle ruled him out for six months, while he missed 15 months after injuring his groin in October 2014, ruling him out of the 2015 World Cup in England.
A groin injury in May 2016 led to him missing England's summer tour to Australia and another groin injury saw him miss two months in September of that year.
Having returned from that problem, Tuilagi was sidelined for nine months after hurting knee ligaments in January 2017.
Since then he has stayed clear of serious injury, playing in all five of England's 2019 Six Nations games and scoring three tries at that year's World Cup.
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