England in South Africa 2015-16 January 17, 2016

Steyn out of final Test, du Plessis vulnerable

Dale Steyn will miss the final Test between South Africa and England as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury. ESPNcricinfo understands that even though Steyn will complete treatment in a hyperbaric chamber on the eve of the Centurion match he will not be risked with a view to getting him ready for the limited-overs' matches that follow.

That leaves the selectors with five other fast bowling options from the current squad - Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Abbott and Hardus Viljoen - and they will have to decide on the right combination for SuperSport Park after going all-pace at the Wanderers.

If they continue to with that strategy, they will choose between Viljoen, who made his debut at the Wanderers, or Abbott, who played in Durban but sat out of the Cape Town Test with a hamstring injury. However, both Viljoen and Abbott could find themselves on the sidelines if the selectors opt to bring back a specialist spinner in Dane Piedt and deploy only three frontline quicks for the fourth Test and that may be among the easier decisions they have to make.

The more complicated questions lie in the batting line-up, where it is likely there will be a change at the top. Stiaan van Zyl, who has is averaging 15.60 as an opener and has five single figure scores from his last nine innings, could make way for Stephen Cook, who topped up on his two centuries in the first-class competition with a fifty in this week's round of matches.

Cook has been overlooked despite consistent performances because, at 33, he may not be a long-term solution but selection convener Linda Zondi last week said that age was not a barrier. "Cook is definitely in our plans. His age is not a concern. If a player is good enough his age doesn't matter."

Changes could also take place in the middle order where JP Duminy could force his way back into the XI with Faf du Plessis the most vulnerable to omission. The No.7 position will also be assessed depending on the fitness of Quinton de Kock, who could be reinstalled as keeper if he has recovered from the knee injury that kept him out of the Wanderers Test.

De Kock slipped while walking his dogs the day before the Test and Dane Vilas was flown in as an emergency replacement. Vilas had a good game with the gloves in hand but like his team-mates, struggled for runs, and the suggestion is that if de Kock is fit, he will play. De Kock underwent a scan on the first day of the match and the initial diagnosis showed no tears. South African management said his injury was "not as bad as we initially thought."

The South Africa squad was given two days off following their three-day defeat at the Wanderers and will reconvene in Centurion on Tuesday, which is also when the selectors will meet to finalise their decisions.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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