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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Thompson adds to England worries
Steve Thompson in action for Northampton recently
Thompson's absence against the All Blacks would be a major blow
Northampton hooker Steve Thompson has become the latest injury concern for England ahead of the autumn Tests after being ruled out for up to six weeks.

Thompson suffered a calf tear in Saturday's Premiership match at Gloucester and will be sidelined for at least the next month.

England play New Zealand at Twickenham in six weeks, on Sunday 5 November.

Coach Andy Robinson is already likely to be without Steve Borthwick, Jonny Wilkinson and James Simpson-Daniel.

Thompson's injury was one of several sustained by Saints players at Kingsholm.

The injuries to Steve and Bruce appear to be serious ones

Saints coach Paul Grayson
Captain Bruce Reihana is to see a specialist after undergoing a scan on Monday for suspected knee ligament damage, and could be facing a long spell on the sidelines.

Former Scotland prop Tom Smith will also have a scan on his injured knee, although is said to be "recovering well already".

Fellow prop Pat Barnard, a member of England's Elite Player Squad, "is also showing signs of recovery" and joined up with the England squad at Loughborough University on Monday.

"The initial signs were that we had lost our entire front row, but hopefully the damage is not too serious to Tom and Pat," said Saints head coach Paul Grayson.

"The injuries to Steve and Bruce appear to be serious ones and put the squad under pressure, but they also give a chance for others to step up.

"Thankfully (hooker) Dylan Hartley has now returned to training, which is good news for our front row."

Gloucester 28-7 Northampton
24 Sep 06 |  English
Wilkinson suffers ligament tear
11 Sep 06 |  English
Injury setback for Simpson-Daniel
21 Aug 06 |  Gloucester
Brown ruled out with broken arm
11 Sep 06 |  Gloucester


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