LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - England flyhalf Toby Flood has been ruled out of their final international of the year against New Zealand on Saturday with a toe injury, coach Stuart Lancaster said on Monday.
Flood suffered the injury in last weekend's 16-15 defeat by South Africa at Twickenham and is now likely to be replaced by either Owen Farrell or uncapped Freddie Burns.
Farrell, who came off the bench on Saturday, is favourite to start but Gloucester's in-form Burns, the Premiership's leading points scorer, is likely to feature at least from the bench.
"It's a big blow to lose to Toby," Lancaster told Sky Sports News.
"Equally there is an excitement in bringing Freddie Burns in. He is one of the form players in the Premiership, if not the form player, and he has trained with us the last couple of weeks.
"He has knowledge of what we do now and what we need to do, we just have to bring him up to speed."
Lancaster defended captain Chris Robshaw, whose decision-making was called into question after Saturday's defeat.
With two minutes remaining and England trailing by four points, Robshaw told Farrell to kick a penalty rather than put the ball in the corner and chase a match-winning try.
Although Farrell's kick was successful, it left South Africa still holding a slim advantage and they clung on after the restart to hand England another loss.
"Chris and I sat down with the coaches and the whole team and we talked through that and all the other decisions," Lancaster said.
"Chris was our top tackler, our top ball carrier, more breakdowns than anyone; he had an outstanding game. We all felt we had let him down because he had made a decision and it is up to us to make it work. It didn't.
"In hindsight there was a greater probability if we had gone in the corner, but the most important thing for me is we all stood behind the captain and we are all together as a team. We can't hang Chris Robshaw out to dry."
England beat Fiji in their first November test but have since lost successive matches against Australia and the Springboks. (Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Mark Meadows)