James Anderson is expected to miss England's Test series in Bangladesh next month, amid concerns that he has not yet fully recovered from the shoulder injury that hindered his performances in the English summer.
According to a report in The Guardian, scans this week have shown that Anderson requires an extended break to recover from a stress fracture to his right shoulder blade that caused him to miss the Lord's Test against Pakistan in July.
Jake Ball, the Nottinghamshire seamer, has been lined up to replace Anderson in the Test squad, after being asked to stay on as cover after the ODI series, but Anderson's absence may yet have a knock-on effect on the five-Test series against India that begins in November, directly after the Bangladesh leg of the winter.
Anderson has not played any cricket since the end of the Pakistan series in August, and at the age of 34, he himself admitted recently that he may need careful handling if he is to survive a gruelling itinerary that will feature seven Tests in the space of two months.
"It's a tough one because as a player, if you're fit, you want to play, simple as that. No matter what the format, you're desperate to play," Anderson said last week.
"But there may well come a time when it will get managed. At 34, I probably have to manage myself, or be managed, quite well. You want, if possible, to play every Test but India is going to be five back-to-back and that's a huge ask for any bowler."
The first Test against Bangladesh starts at Chittagong on October 20, in just over three weeks' time, and the two-Test series represents the only match practice that England have lined up ahead of the first of their five Tests against India at Rajkot on November 9.
If Anderson does not tour Bangladesh, and if England cannot provide him a opportunity to prove his match fitness before the India tour, he faces coming back to Test cricket in India without having bowled a ball in a competitive situation for nearly three months.
Anderson was an integral member of the side that beat India on home soil during England's last Test tour of the country in 2012-13, claiming 12 wickets at 30.25 in their 2-1 series win, including match figures of 6 for 127 in their decisive victory in the third Test at Kolkata.
The ECB is set to name its list of centrally contracted players for the next 12 months on Thursday morning, having delayed the announcement by 24 hours. A new set of deals for one-day players is expected to be unveiled as well.