18 May, 15:44
It's down to the wire now for the five contenders who have been shortlisted for the ultimate individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby, ERC European Player of the Year 2013.
Both players travelled back North straight after Saturday's game and specialist analysis on Sunday confirmed that both players had suffered serious injuries.
Charlie Hodgson has ruptured his cruciate ligament in a repeat of the injury he sustained to his other knee in 2003, also whilst playing for England. Charlie will have an operation next week, before commencing a rehabilitation programme with the same specialist who saw his successful recovery last time.
Andrew Sheridan has a fracture to his ankle and associated ligament damage, and he too will undergo surgery within the next seven days.
Director of Rugby Philippe Saint Andre said, "This is a terrible blow for the players, for England and for Sale Sharks. Our thoughts are with the players at this moment, but we know that they will receive the very best treatment available to ensure that they return, for club and country, as soon as is possible. Of course their loss is a blow to our aspirations to retain our title, and also to our chances in the EDF and Heineken Cups. However, I have a strong squad here at Sale, and opportunities will now open up for some of our younger players to make a name for themselves. We will not be making excuses - we must instead be inspired by adversity.'
Sale have the option of including an additional player to their European squad, in place of one of their injured players, before the club resumes their Heineken Cup campaign on 10 December against Pool 3 leaders Stade Francais Paris, in Parc des Princes.