Saracens have been dealt a bitter blow ahead of next week's Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final trip to face Leinster in Dublin after it was confirmed that England captains Owen Farrell is suspended for the game.
The out-half will miss the last eight encounter after being handed a five-game ban last night as a result of his red card against Wasps last Saturday.
Farrell caught 18-year-old Charlie Atkinson high during the second-half of the Premiership match and was given his marching orders.
Farrell accepted his charge and in spite of support from England coach Eddie Jones he was given the five-match ban.
The news will come as a major blow to the European champions who have already been weakened by a raft of departures over the summer as a result of their impending relegation due to salary cap breaches.
“It was accepted by the RFU, the player and the Panel that the offending was reckless and not intentional," Independent panel chair Mike Hamlin said after Farrell's hearing tonight.
"This was a totally unacceptable contact with the neck/head of Charlie Atkinson as a result of a reckless tackle which had the consequences of him being knocked unconscious and sustaining a concussion.
"This resulted in the Panel concluding that this was a top end offence with an entry point of 10 matches. There were no aggravating features.
“Testimonials provided by Mark McCall, Eddie Jones and the founders of a charity with which the player works very closely were of the highest quality.
"The Panel concluded that applying the off-field mitigating factors, notwithstanding his suspension four-and-a-half years ago, the player was entitled to a reduction from 10 matches to five meaningful matches under RFU regulation 19.11.11. The player is free to play again on October 5.”