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Premiership Rugby

Sanderson injury-blow for Sharks

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

That means the 23-year-old will also be unable to participate in either of England's simulataneous tours during the off-season, but Sharks coach Jim Mallinder does expect him to be fully fit for the start of the 2003/2004 season.

This is a major blow for Sanderson, who has already had his senior career interrupted by a number of previous injuries.

"This was nothing like the previous procedure on his neck that kept him sidelined for a long time but was something that needed to be done and it was better to do it now rather than wait," said Mallinder.

With three international caps to his credit, Sanderson made his England Test debut against Romania in 2001 and last played for his country as a replacement in the 40-5 Six Nations victory over Italy at Twickenham this year.

Named in England's 70-man squad earlier this month, Sanderson would have have almost certainly taken part in England's Churchill Cup campaign or the senior tour to Australia and New Zealand if injury had not intervened.

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