BATH props current and future could be in line to step in for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Ireland after Leicester tighthead Dan Cole was ruled out for the rest of the tournament.

Sale Sharks' Henry Thomas - who will join Bath next season - and Bath's David Wilson are contenders to replace the 26-year-old Cole, who suffering from a bulging disc in his neck which is trapping a nerve and needs a period of rest.

it leave England coach Stuart Lancaster with a headache in the position, with Thomas' international action limited while Wilson has only just returned from a calf injury and played only 46 minutes in the 27-23 win at Exeter Chiefs on Saturday before being replaced by Anthony Perenise.

England are currently third in the standings with two points, two points behind leading sides Ireland - who they play at Twickenham on Saturday - and France.

England coach Stuart Lancaster admits it is "massively disappointing" to lose the Leicester forward - will have further specialist assessment on Tuesday evening - but also sees it as a chance for some other players to stake their claims.

He said: "It's massively disappointing for Dan, Leicester and England but the important thing is that this has been diagnosed and that Dan gets the appropriate rest and treatment.

"Our medics are working closely with Leicester's to come up with a programme that will ensure Dan returns in the best possible shape.

"In the meantime, it's great to have David Wilson back, as well as Henry Thomas who has trained well and came off the bench against Scotland and this will be an opportunity to develop experience in this area."