England seamer Toby Roland-Jones is set to miss this winter's Ashes after scans confirmed he has a stress fracture in his back.
Roland-Jones had made himself a certain selection if fit in a squad which will be named next week after taking 17 wickets at an average of under 20 in four matches against South Africa and West Indies in his maiden Test summer at the age of 29.
But, after initially complaining of pain in his side, he had to leave the field mid-over for Middlesex in this week's penultimate round of Specsavers County Championship Division One fixtures, against Lancashire at Lord's.
His county subsequently issued a brief statement on Friday afternoon, confirming an injury which has a typical recovery time of between six and 12 weeks.
It read: "Middlesex Cricket are extremely disappointed to announce that the result of the medical scan which Toby undertook yesterday has revealed that he has a stress fracture in his L5 vertebra (lower back), which will mean that he will take no further part in the domestic season for Middlesex."
Roland-Jones' club have just one more fixture, away to Somerset next week, as they bid to ensure top-flight survival 12 months after winning the championship title.
England's high-profile winter begins when they leave for Australia on October 28.
It is understood the injury leaves Roland-Jones out of contention to be named in the squad next Wednesday, with the first Ashes Test only two months away - almost to the day, in Brisbane on November 23.
England's selectors must therefore cast their net wider to work out who will be their back-up seamers at the Gabba and beyond.
The attack will be led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad, with Chris Woakes the third seamer and Ben Stokes England's pace-bowling all-rounder.
They are keen to take Mark Wood on tour, with his extra pace such an asset, as long as he can continue to demonstrate his recovery from the heel problem which interrupted his summer.
Roland-Jones' absence, however, may mean a return to the squad for his Middlesex team-mate Steven Finn, while other pace options include Jake Ball and uncapped Somerset bowler Craig Overton.