Chris Ashton to undergo knee surgery after final

Northampton wing Chris Ashton
Ashton has been in fine form for club and country this season

Northampton wing Chris Ashton has revealed that he will have exploratory knee surgery after Saturday's Heineken Cup final against Leinster.

The 24-year-old will have surgery on his left knee four days later in order to be fully fit for England's World Cup campaign in the autumn.

"I think it's just a clean-up job," Ashton told the Daily Mail.external-link

"Hopefully there's not too much to it but I don't think they'll know exactly what's needed until they go in there."

England manager Martin Johnson will hope the procedure will not keep Ashton out for an extended period of time with this year's World Cup in New Zealand looming large.

Johnson's men begin their preparations with warm-up games against Wales on 6 and 13 August as well as Ireland on 27 August before starting their World Cup campaign against Argentina on 10 September.

Ashton has become a key member of the international set-up since making his debut against France at the end of last year's Six Nations.

He was a shining light in this year's campaign, scoring two tries against Wales and four tries in the victory over Italy. Ashton has scored nine tries in 12 Tests for his country.

He has also scored 10 tries in 12 league appearances for Northampton this season to help his side reach the Premiership play-offs.

Ashton had to have stitches after being punched by Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi during Saturday's 11-3 Premiership semi-final defeat at Welford Road.

Meanwhile, England flanker Tom Wood - the Premiership Player of the Season - remains a major doubt for the Heineken Cup final in Cardiff despite sleeping in an oxygen chamber to aid his recovery from a hairline fracture to his leg.