Michele Campagnaro is out of Italy’s 2020 Six Nations campaign. The Azzurri centre injured his knee during Harlequins’ December 28 Gallagher Premiership draw with Leicester Tigers at Twickenham. 

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He has now confirmed to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport that he is now set for a long stint in the sidelines and might not even make it back onto the field of play until 2021. 

The 26-year-old, who apparently suffered a similar injury as a teenager in 2011, missed the entire 2018 Six Nations with a knee injury, but this one appears particularly severe.

“Recovery time? On a normal meniscus, we speak of six to nine months. For a recurrence like this in my case, it’s nine to twelve months,” he explained to the Italian newspaper. 

His absence will be a blow to incoming Italy boss Franco Smith who takes over from Conor O’Shea, the coach who handed Campagnaro two starts at the recent World Cup in Japan.

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It is also a further dent for struggling Harlequins who have been hit by a number of injuries and absences. Even before Campagnaro was knocked out of the picture for the remainder of the season last weekend, Quins boss Paul Gustard has recently recruited Newcastle Falcons centre Tom Penny over Christmas until the end of the 2019/20 season.

With a host of first team players injured/unavailable in the centre position such as Ben Tapuai, Joe Marchant, Francis Saili and James Lang, Gustard was hoping Penny would slot into the side quickly and be in a position to compete for game time.

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“With our deepening injury list, we have been looking for suitable reinforcements, and Tom is a player we have admired for a long time,” said Gustard at the time. “He has a very good reputation as a player but also as a person.”

Cadan Murley moved into the centre in the absence of Campagnaro for Friday’s night trip to Sale by the readjustment didn’t work as Quins were hammered 48-10 and have now just three wins from eight matches. 

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