England and Exeter Chiefs winger Jack Nowell has been ruled out of England's June tour of New Zealand which could lead to a recall for Saracens winger Chris Ashton.
Twenty-one-year-old Nowell made his debut for England in the Six Nations against France and held his position for all of England's five Six Nations matches.
Nowell scored a try for England in the demolition of Italy in their final match but then suffered a shoulder injury in his first match back with Exeter after the championship.
As the injury will need time to heal the medics at Exeter and England have decided that it would be best not to rush the winger back into action and so he will have an operation on a nagging knee problem which has been troubling him.
The June break will allow Nowell to heal fully and he will be ready for the start of the new season.
"Jack has a pretty bad shoulder injury. He has nerve damage, " Exeter coach Rob Baxter told the Daily Mail.
"It was going to be hit and miss to get him back in time for the end of the season and he also needs an operation on a long-term knee issue. This is an important chance to get on top of that situation."
"He's only 21, so we are trying to manage his long-term prospects, in conjunction with England. He is booked in for an operation as soon as the season finishes and we've let him go away for a break until then because he won't have a break for six to eight weeks after the surgery, when he'll be in rehab.
"The shoulder injury, because it's nerve-based, will just take time to heal naturally. It is long-term enough that there is no benefit in putting off the knee surgery."
Nowell overtook Chris Ashton in the England selection order but since the Saracens winger has been dropped he has revived his career at club level. Ashton scored two tries against Clermont on the weekend as Saracens booked a place in the Heineken Cup final.
While Nowell's injury could give Ashton the opportunity to regain his place in the England team he is unlikely to feature in England's series opener against the All Blacks in Auckland on June the 7th as Saracens look set to play in the Premiership final and England coach Stuart Lancaster has ruled out selecting players who will be in the final for the first Test.
Ashton could however make his England return in the remaining Tests in Dunedin and Hamilton.