Toby Roland-Jones' Ashes hopes are in severe doubt after being diagnosed with a stress fracture of the lower back.
Roland-Jones, who played no part in the latter stages of Middlesex's victory over Lancashire at Lord's, had been a near-certainty to be named in England's squad for the tour of Australia that is due to be announced at The Oval next Wednesday.
Instead, he has been left sweating on his role in this winter's campaign, after Middlesex confirmed that he would be taking no part in next week's final match of the County Championship, a potentially crucial relegation showdown against Somerset at Taunton.
"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."
It is a potentially bitter blow for Roland-Jones, who has impressed in his England career to date. He has claimed 17 wickets in four Tests, including a best of 5 for 57 on debut against South Africa at The Oval in August, and his combination of accuracy and bounce from a tall action would have made him a prime candidate for selection on Australia's wickets.
In Roland-Jones' likely absence, therefore, and with Durham's Mark Wood also struggling with injury, the biggest beneficiary could be the man who came to Middlesex's rescue against Lancashire on Thursday. Steven Finn returned a season's best 8 for 79 to secure a 36-run victory and, according to his Australian captain, Adam Voges, "bowled as well as I've ever seen him bowl".
"If he bowls like that, he should [be in the Ashes squad]," said Voges. "One-hundred percent. He had rhythm, his pace was up and his areas were good."
Finn, who has taken 125 Test wickets in a stop-start 36-match career, endured contrasting fortunes on England's last Ashes tours. In 2010-11 he claimed 14 wickets in the first three Tests en route to England's 3-1 series win, but in 2013-14 he was rendered "unselectable" after the collapse of his bowling action.
"We'll see what happens," Finn said. "I'm pretty content with where my game's at. I felt really good. I felt that my pace was there for most of the game. It's up to the selectors and whoever picks the team to see who goes Down Under. It's a really exciting opportunity and really exciting prospect to potentially - hopefully - be in the mix."
The out-and-out pace of Somerset's Jamie Overton would have made him another prime contender for a seam-bowling berth in the Ashes squad, but for his own back problems. His twin brother, Craig, who was included in England's T20 squad against South Africa but didn't play a match, may also have moved up the pecking order.
The typical recovery time for a stress fracture of the back is between six and 12 weeks. The first Test against Australia begins at Brisbane on November 23, in almost exactly two months.