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, leaving England boss Eddie Jones to plan for a likely campaign without the experienced number eight.

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 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."

Vunipola's frustration was evident in a message he posted on Instagram, in which he wrote: "One of these days I might actually be able to play more than 2 games without breaking (no pun intended) I said it before and I'll say again. God has a plan for me, it's just hard having to be patient! #gratefulheart"

The 15-15 draw against Ospreys marked only his second comeback game after a three-month absence with knee trouble.

He also missed last summer's British and Irish Lions tour after requiring shoulder surgery and in November 2016 suffered another episode of knee trouble that kept him sidelined for three months.

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

Former England captain Will Carling tweeted: "Very sorry to hear the news about @bvunipola , was looking forward to seeing him in an England shirt again. Oh well, just a little longer to wait, but hopefully an even bigger impact when it happens"

Jones 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.

Tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby will 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.