LONDON (AP) — England inside centre Billy Twelvetrees looks like missing the New Zealand tour next month because his ankle injury will take up to six weeks to heal.
Twelvetrees was hurt on Saturday in Gloucester's 38-30 win over London Irish in the English Premiership.
He did not need surgery, but may not be fit in time for the first test at Eden Park on June 7, or the second test a week later, Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies said on Thursday.
"It's not ligaments, it's a relatively minor injury in his ankle, but it will stop him from playing for between four to six weeks," Davies said.
The major doubt around Twelvetrees was the latest blow in coach Stuart Lancaster's plans to topple the world champion All Blacks on their turf.
Already, wingers Jack Nowell and Christian Wade will miss the tour, and British Lions forwards Tom Croft and Alex Corbisiero will be rested, as their comebacks from knee injuries begin only this weekend. Hooker has become a headache position for Lancaster with the Lions' Tom Youngs staying behind to care for his ill wife, and Dylan Hartley sidelined since late March with a shoulder injury.
Lancaster's planning was already disrupted by the Premiership final being only a week before the first test, with those players not being available for the opening test. But he won't know who can play for him until the finalists are known next week, which is why the announcement of an enlarged squad of 40-42 to cover all the bases has been delayed.
After the first test in Auckland are two more on successive Saturdays in Dunedin and Hamilton.