Sale boss Steve Diamond revealed that Manu Tuilagi may face a significant spell on the sidelines after damaging his Achilles.

The England star, who has been a success since arriving from Leicester in time for the restart, picked up the problem during a muscular carry in the 34-14 Gallagher Premiership victory at Northampton on Tuesday night.

Tulagi’s contract expires at the end of next season and the Sharks are hoping to tie England’s blockbusting centre down to a longer deal.

“Somebody landed on it. We’ll be assessing it overnight. I don’t think it’s clever. I don’t think it’s the best,” Diamond said.

“Manu has settled in so well. We were having a bit of crack this week about how he’s never played so many games, maybe that was a jinx.

“Whatever it takes to get Manu back, we’ll do it, however long it takes.

“We’ll comfort him over the next month or two and chat about a long-term career with us. We’re delighted about what he’s done for us so far.”

Apart from the injury to Tuilagi and Cobus Wiese suffering a hyper-extended knee, it was a rewarding night for Sale as they claimed the bonus-point win that keeps them in the hunt for a top-four place.

“We’re delighted really because there was a lot of pressure on us. The four clubs pushing Exeter are all at the races. If we hadn’t won here then I think we’d have been out of it,” Diamond said.

“I think we’ll make the top four. Playing away doesn’t frighten us at the moment. If we get into the play-offs that would be a good stepping stone in the evolution in the club.”

The early outlook for Northampton’s Courtney Lawes is also bleak after the Saints lock hurt his right ankle after challenging for a high ball, catching his studs in the turf on landing and twisting awkwardly.

Both he and Tuilagi would have been heavily involved with England this autumn as Eddie Jones prepares to name a preliminary squad for the Barbarians games on Monday.