Stuart Meaker, the Surrey fast bowler, has suffered a freak groin injury that looks likely to keep him out of action for the first few weeks of the season.

Meaker was hurt while batting in the nets on Easter Monday when he inside edged a delivery on to his groin. He subsequently underwent a minor operation.

While it is too early to predict how long Meaker will be absent, it seems highly unlikely that he will be fit for selection before May and it is possible he will not play before until June.

The news is another setback to a Surrey side preparing for their first season back in Division One. While Meaker hardly featured last year, he has been bowling with impressive pace at Loughborough - well into the 90s, according to coaches - and looked likely to feature in a team already hit by injuries.

The club are also without Jade Dernbach, who has a back injury and Freddie van Den Bergh and Zafar Ansari, who both have thumb injuries. Dernbach may have chance of being fit for the start of the T20 season - Surrey's first game is on May 26 - while Ansari has a chance of being ready for Surrey's second Championship match, which starts on April 24.

Surrey have also announced that Vikram Solanki, who retired as a player at the end of the last season, will return to the club as a part-time 2nd XI captain. He will not be registered as a professional player, but will provide some on-field experience and leadership to a young second XI side in the Championship in particular and support Ali Brown, the second XI coach, off the pitch.

In the 2nd XI Championship, players are allowed to name 12-man teams with 11 batting and fielding. It is, therefore, entirely possible that Solanki will not bat in many games.

The Surrey management may well feel vindicated by news of Meaker's injury. The club has been criticised in recent weeks after signing Ravi Rampaul and South African born seamers Conor McKerr and Mathew Pillans. But, as injury to Meaker shows, teams probably require depth in their seam-bowling resources if they are to sustain a challenge throughout a season. The club were also looking to ease the burden on young seamers such as the Curran brothers.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo