Saqib Mahmood, the England fast bowler, has been ruled out for the season after being diagnosed with a lumbar stress fracture.
Mahmood, who made his Test debut in the Caribbean in March, missed Lancashire's most-recent Championship fixture with lower back pain and subsequent scans revealed the full extent of the problem. Mahmood has a pace bowling development contract from the ECB and his rehabilitation will be jointly managed by England and Lancashire, with no timeframe set for a return.
His absence will further deplete England's seam-bowling resources for the upcoming series against New Zealand, with Chris Woakes and Mark Wood both out of contention and Ollie Robinson struggling for fitness - although James Anderson, Mahmood's Lancashire team-mate, and Stuart Broad are expected to return to the Test set-up. Matthew Fisher, who debuted alongside Mahmood, has been on the sidelines since mid-April, with the Daily Mail reporting that he is also set to miss the rest of the summer with a back stress fracture.
Mahmood, 25, played in Barbados and Grenada on England's Test tour of the West Indies, claiming six wickets at 22.83 and impressing with his pace and ability with the old ball. He also top-scored with 49 in the third Test, as he and Jack Leach raised England from 114 for 9 to 204 all out.
Having turned down a chance to go to the IPL as a replacement player, Mahmood had been hoping to cement his Test credentials this summer. "I spoke to a couple of the guys around me and felt as though it was in my best interests at the moment to focus on red-ball cricket," he said. "Hopefully that can highlight my ambition to play Test cricket and to give myself the best chance to do that by performing here for Lancashire."
He had only featured once for Lancashire in the Championship, taking 4 for 90 in the victory over Gloucestershire in the third round of the competition, and was left out of the squad to play Warwickshire earlier this month in order to receive treatment on a shoulder injury sustained over the winter.
With Woakes, Wood and long-term absentee Jofra Archer out of contention, England once again seem set to be reliant on Anderson and Broad, after the veteran pair were omitted from the squad for the Caribbean. The loss of Mahmood and Fisher could hasten a call-up for uncapped Durham quick Matthew Potts, the Championship's leading wicket-taker with 35 at 18.57, while Craig and Jamie Overton have been in good form for Somerset and Surrey respectively.