Billy Vunipola is set to miss the start of England’s NatWest 6 Nations campaign after suffering a fractured forearm playing for Saracens against Ospreys on Saturday.

Saracens confirmed the injury in a short statement on the club’s official website, leaving England boss Eddie Jones to plan for a likely campaign without the experienced number eight.

In a statement, his club said: “Saracens can confirm that as a result of an injury sustained in Saturday’s European Rugby Champions Cup match against Ospreys, Billy Vunipola has fractured his forearm. Vunipola had an x-ray today (Sunday) confirming the injury.

Billy VunipolaBilly Vunipola injured his arm against Ospreys (Mark Kerton/PA)

“Billy is due to see a specialist later this week, when a time-frame for recovery may be defined. But until that time Saracens will make no further comment. Saracens will issue a further statement once Billy has seen a specialist.”

The news is a big blow for Jones, who will name his squad on Thursday for the 6 Nations opener against Italy in Rome on February 4.

He is already braced for the unavailability of forward James Haskell, who was shown a red card in Wasps’ 33-28 Champions Cup defeat to Harlequins on Saturday.

James HaskellJames Haskell could face a ban of up to six weeks (David Davies/PA)

Tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby will now convene a disciplinary hearing for 32-year-old Haskell, which is likely to take place in the next few days. He could face a ban of up to six weeks.

The flanker has just been restored to Jones’ extended squad after emerging from a spell of indifferent form and would have been in the champions’ plans for Rome and beyond.

Meanwhile Vunipola faces a further spell on the sidelines, with the draw against Ospreys marking only his second comeback game after a three-month absence with knee trouble.